Things

Disclaimer : Please except a totally disconnected, disjointed post as I try to make note of everything that is happening in my life and inside my head.

I turned 35 last week and it felt nicer than I would have expected. As in, I was a bit worried for a while about hitting the ‘mid-thirties’, though technically, as I have explained before in some other post, 34-36 is the mid thirties range, which means I was already in my mid thirties. Only, hitting the half decade mark seemed to seal the deal. I am officially on the other side of life.

And, it feels good. Surprisingly so, because of late, I have been a bit worried about growing old. Actually not so much about growing older, but the fact that life is passing by way too quickly and there seems to be so much to do in such little time, has been a recurring thought. So I wasn’t really looking forward to reaching the half-way mark in the fourth decade of my existence.

But I did, because apparently human beings don’t have a choice in this. And I did it with my two most favorite people in the world, amidst acres of vineyards that were far from harvest season, in a chateau-style resort that on the two days we stayed there, was housing just us. Plus, for as far as your eyes could see, there was no sign of any other living being, except the ones working in the place. There were cycles to ride, and badminton rackets to play with, and long winding paths you could walk around on, spotting herds of deer in the evening. There was also custom-made food, and every kind of wine available at all times in the day. And while it all seemed way too quiet the day we landed, by the time we reached day two, which was my birthday, and which I brought in by cutting a gulab-jamun, it was nothing short of amazing. Which is pretty much what you would want your birthday to be.

I also did not buy clothes for my birthday per se. The thing is, all this online shopping making stuff available 365 days a year, has killed the joy of shopping for an occasion. Agreed, I had moved away from the ‘buy new clothes for Diwali and for birthday’ routine once I started working, but still, the major shopping was scheduled during end of season sales in malls. Now, there is always something going on on some ecom site at all times, and the thrill is gone. I did however bring back shopping for Diwali in the last 3 years, mainly because of Zo, and also because that’s the only time I can justify spending on ethnic wear apparently. So I just packed my favorite stuff and left.

I however, did want to buy something for myself, not because of the birthday, but in general. Which is one I realised I am somewhat of a cheapskate. What happened is, I started buying and using lipstick only in the last 2 years – that, and kajal. Before that I was the ‘scrub your face , put some moisturiser and you are all set’ kind, if that is a kind that is. In the last 2 years however, I have bought quite a few shades and brands, most of them online, and always on a discount, and never crossing the 3 digit mark in price. But I have been eyeing this pretty Mac shade (Mehr, if you are into anything like this) for a while, but couldn’t get myself to spend the 1500 bucks it cost. Only, I thought I should gift myself this for my birthday.

But, like I said, I think I am a cheapskate and just couldn’t do it. But I wanted it. So I sent a sad message on the whatsapp group that comprises of me, my mum and my sister, about how I was feeling so guilty about wanting to spend so much on a piece of cosmetic, and how I couldn’t get myself to, and how sad I was because I really wanted it and sob, what was I supposed to do? So yeah, my MAC Mehr is on it’s way and what would we do without mothers?

I also saw these very pretty shoes on Lulu and Sky which were on a tremendous off making it sort of, kind of, affordable to me. And they were available just in my size, which is such a sign, I know. So I added them in my cart, and then I thought back to the 30+ pairs of shoes lying in my shoe closet, and also about how I had only worn 3 of those over and over again in the last month and a half. Then serious guilt came over, and I logged out. And to make myself feel better, or in other words, justify my historical purchases, I wore these very pretty, but definitely not comfortable, pair in deep red to work today. Driving was a bitch, but I survived.

Moving on and away from materialism and the craving for clothes and shoes and cosmetics (yeesh!), to materialism of another kind, I concluded my 5 day long birthday celebration on Sunday, which is when I finally watched A.R.Rahman live in concert! Those who like Rahman and his music and concerts, might be aware that he \is doing this tour around the country to celebrate having been in the industry for 25 years. And for me, watching him live was a close to bucket-list item – definitely the only Indian Musician that I just had to watch perform. So I did, and it was wonderful and though we were far enough from the stage for him to look like a little pen, and for us to get confused between Mohit Chauhan and Javed Ali, except Mohit Chauhan wore a cap, it was absolutely brilliant and worth it. And also, in the 3 hours and the million songs they performed, the only ones I didn’t know were 4 numbers the troupe sang in Telugu. So yay for that. Not so much yay however to the 45 minutes we spent in the parking after the concert ended, waiting for the cars to move – but when you have the God of Indian music perform, and 25000 folks attend, what do you expect? So I sucked it up and accepted that as part of the celebration and it didn’t feel bad at all. Maybe it was all the sanity and maturity that turning 35 brings along with it. Heh.

So that was that, and as I scroll up, I notice that this post has sort of gone out of control. But considering this is like my Birthday post, and how often do you turn 35, I think a long-winded post is the least I deserve, yes?

And then, for the rest, there’s always online shopping.

Advertisements

Gimme gimme gimme

I love November. It is a happy, positive month that happens to have my birthday in it. The weather is brilliant. It follows festival-filled October which is exhausting-awesome. And it precedes December which is like the happy-holiday-make-plans-for-a-better-life period in life, which I love spending in an almost empty office.

Anyway, so this November, while we still have a month and a half for the year to end – I am going to jot down my new year requirements. Yep, since we know I don’t do resolutions, in their place I have my clear list of 2018 needs/wants/requirements. I am not saying requests because I don’t have the patience.

Day care – I need a fully functional daycare where I need to send Zo after school. As you know, Zo started daycare at 9 months, in 2012, and there has been no looking back since then. I am forever thankful to all that she learnt in the different daycares she went to. She started speaking clear words by 1, sometimes scandalising us. And she knew how to eat, or do her homework by herself (whether she did it, is another thing altogether) much earlier than other kids I know. She makes friends much faster than I ever have. All this, thanks to the fact that she doesn’t stay cooped in the house after school. And now, I don’t have a daycare. I am thankful that my mom-in-law is around to manage her for those 3 hours everyday before I return. But dearest 2018, this is not a permanent solution, so make an arrangement, pronto.

Better Roads – The roads I take to work have been under construction for 2 frigging years. It’s almost like one fine day the authorities wake up and go – which road do we dig up today? And then, when they finish fixing it in 6 months, then they are like – Oh, that was fun, let me dig the other side now. And then when that’s done, a whole year later they go – Hmm,  who wants roads, how awesome would a flyover be here! And bam, now everything is being blocked and dug up. It’s a year and a half since I am driving, and I have always taken a 5 km roundabout to reach my old home which was 1.8 kms from work.  I know it will all be awesome when it’s done, but I am not ok if it’s Zo is old enough to drive by then.

Clarity – What am I doing? Don’t know. What do I want to do in life? Don’t know. What does happiness mean to me? Don’t know. Why am I not pursuing things I love? Don’t know. In short, I am a mess. Yes, this is mid-life crisis, which I acknowledge, but I really need and deserve more clarity. I want it. Or I am going insane, and I cannot afford to.

Control – I have never ever bought a self-help book. I laugh at people who need outside motivation to handle their lives. I scoff at folks who think hearing someone else speak can make them understand themselves better. And yet, two weeks ago, I was so upset with the way things were, and how out of whack things were going, and how I did not seem to have control over anything, that I broke down and ordered this book. This, on any other day, I would have called a step backward. But I am taking it in my stride and actually planning on reading the book. That however doesn’t mean that I will manage like this forever. I need to be in charge. And I need peace. And you are giving me that.

Miracles – I like miracles and magic and good things happening. And 2018, you are expected to provide me with good, fat portions of this. I don’t know how, I don’t know what, but I need magic, a lot of it.

Happiness –  Quite frankly 2018 , this I will manage. As long as you ensure all the items listed above, I can handle this last one on my own, you can take it easy. I am nice like that.

Which is why you need to be extremely nice to me.

Punctuating thoughts

I was just reading an office mail that was not only missing essential punctuation, it also had the sender sign off his name with a small letter. Personally, I cannot take such mails seriously. It’s got nothing to do with being a grammar Nazi, but the very fact that you did not bother to read through your mail before sending it and realise that thanks to the missing comma, it actually fails to convey your message to a large extent, makes me feel that you don’t care if anyone takes it seriously. Hence, I didn’t.

I was always judgmental about how people wrote, especially when it came to spelling errors or incorrect use of articles, but I have softened over time. I realise that when you are typing fast, and typing a lot, the chances of missing a word here or there, is a definite possibility. It might have also had to do with the fact that I find myself finding errors in my own writing, most of which are clearly typos. Spelling errors, I still find difficult to digest because it doesn’t take much to see that brilliant red line under what you have written, and correct it. But incorrect or no punctuation? I hate it.

The thing is, most people who miss it out, speak relatively well. But when they put what they want on to the page, they stop bothering about how it would sound. Unfortunately, when I read in my head, I read like the writer is actually speaking to me. So if Dennis says –

‘Really appreciate the report going out on time. Thanks Dennis.’

I will think Dennis is thanking another imaginary Dennis, and not me. Because Dennis did not bother to add a comma between Thanks and his name. And this will make me very annoyed with Dennis.

Then about the paragraph formation. Why does every line have to start in a new line like we are doing bullets for a news reading session? And if it is, indeed bullet points, why is there nothing explaining what is about to follow? Sample this –

Have we completed the report?

Do you think there is an opportunity to make it more visually appealing?

Can you send over some talking points around it?

Let’s talk tomorrow.

I think that’s a whole lot of space for what could have been fit in two lines. And quite frankly, I have been generous while adding the question marks here, because most of the times, one is supposed to add their own end of line punctuation, based on your conclusions about what the sentence is expected to convey.  Because, who has time to click shift+? to get that little thing out there?

And this deciphering, it is still possible in the above example, but now, look at this.

There are reports to be run over the weekend who is doing them

Now what do you make of the above? Ok, the sane mind would say –

There are reports to be run over the weekend (conclusive statement). Who is doing them? (question)

But trust me, the actual point being made was –

Are there reports to be run over the weekend? (question) If yes, who is doing them? (if, then question).

And this gets my goat. First of all, what is with the convenient switching of ‘Are’ and ‘There’. How tough is it? There are – means you are sure. Are there – means you are asking. Just because while speaking you (wrongly) say – There are reports due this weekend? – with a lilt at the end which confirms that it is indeed a question, doesn’t mean you write it too. And that too, you forget symbolizing the lilt with the little question mark! Why?

Not cool, because the reader, in this case me, will first stress about there being reports to run over weekend (which I was not aware of, and just assumed there were,  because you said there are) and then look for who is doing them (a wasteful exercise because there are no reports). Like I said, very, very annoying.

What is even more fun is that I have actually pointed this out to folks, hoping to make them a little attention to what they are writing. And most often, I have been responded to with a – Ah, who bothers about such little things! We don’t have time to proof read each mail’. Or even worse, ‘Come on, we are Financial analysts, not English teachers’. And so, I have pretty much given up. And instead think of these as fun brain teasers, where I try to beat my own record in the time I spend to understand mails, because yay, puzzle!

Because, is there a point in trying to convince others that how they sound in writing matters, just as much as how they sound while speaking does? (question) Especially when they really don’t care? ( additional question)

Nope, there isn’t. (conclusive statement)

The road ahead

So what happened after the last post was that Ramu Kaka fell ill and didn’t come yesterday. It was very sad and made me all worried about the jinxing power of showing off on blogs. Then he returned today and made delicious aloo-parathas and so I was like, maybe I was over-thinking it all. So I returned here to post again. But no, this post is not about Ramu Kaka. I honestly have no idea what this post is about – as in, this post exists because I feel like writing, and not because I have something to say. But because I am here, I might as well say something.

Now you all know we moved into a new house. The new house’s only problem is that it is far. Far from work, that is. Those who have been reading me for long, by which I mean ~ 8 years in this context, might have read this post from the yore, where I was lamenting about my long-long ride of ~30 kms to work. Well, things obviously changed and we moved to a place that 1.8 kms from my workplace, which was like a dream come true. All was well, but we decided that all this was too good, and moved to Pune, where I was around 6 kms from work, and the Dude was 35 kms from work, so while I was pissed that I had to travel for more than the 10 mins I was used to, I couldn’t complain much, because that would be plain mean. Also, The Dude would have killed me.

Then, we moved back to Hyderabad, and to our old house, but, here’s the twist – my new workplace was once again a good 16 kms from home, and the roads that led to there were pretty nasty – it was actually the same route that I took before in 2010, turned the other way round. Talk about irony.

Well, it wasn’t all bad because eventually I moved jobs (again) and was back to my 2 km journey, and, at this very time, we decided to buy a new house that was – in our old people language – in a not-so-crowded area. Because, you know, old people, peace, green, quiet, too much pollution, need-more-space, close to school, blah-blah and whatever. We were fully aware of the distance, but somehow, the thought that the move was almost 2 years away, made it look like an unimportant thing.

Anyway, fact is, 2 years eventually do happen. And they did. And now, the move is made and the house is lovely. It really is away from pollution, and doesn’t warrant dusting twice a day (something we faced in our centrally located old home where you could walk out and get anything at any time of the day). It is also big and pretty and we are doing it up the way we wanted and yes it takes longer to clean the place. It has a lot of walking space and cycling place and hardly any crowd, because it is practically in the ‘suburbs’ if Hyderabad had a thing like that. Which means 4, yes 4 restaurants deliver food here. Which means to even buy a tooth brush or get your eyebrows done you have to get the car out (no you don’t, I have just gone lazy). Which means we are back to travelling 12 kms to and from work.

So fine, 12 kms is not 30 kms, or even 16, and it is definitely not all through roads which haven’t seen the sun in a while because they are forever covered with vehicles, but they are more than 2 kms. And to add salt to the injury, they make you pass through the said 2 km stretch, which you wistfully sigh at every time you pass – going ‘Been there, done that, Oh Lord what have I done’. Also, this time, I’m not being chauffeured around in a bus or cab, and I am actually driving (is it better or worse, I’m yet to make up my mind).

It is not all bad really and in fact, the route I take has good and a bad half. The first part is through the route which I believe everyone in the city has decided they just have to take or they will miss something in life. It is also the road that the GHMC folks think should be made better, a noble thought, only it means at all points of time 1/2 of it is under construction and blocked. The second is on the world(!?) famous outer ring road, which makes driving feel like a fun activity (what? Not everyone loves driving people. Some, like me, do it because it gets you from one place to another).

All in all, it takes around 30 mins, and every day I listen to Radio Mirchi play whatever they feel like, which is mostly traffic updates from other parts of town, that sometimes have the ability to feel better about your own state. It is definitely the most time I have spent driving by myself. It is also the most time I get everyday to spend with myself in general. So, quite frankly, I am not really complaining.

I mean, I am. But not so much.

The arrival of Ramu Kaka

Apparently I have written 14 posts in 2017, as against 77 in 2016. Which I understand is not cool at all. But I had those blog marathons I picked up in Jan, and again in April to thank – those were a whopping 56 posts, that make feel proud (and ashamed, because of the pathetic numbers of 2017) of myself. Tsk, what a contradiction.

I have no clue why, but my stomach is constantly growling today, which is weird because I had a full breakfast of rotis and a cabbage-carrot-potato curry, which I picked up quite warily, but which, somehow worked. And there is still some time, approximately 2 hours to go before I embark upon my lunch of rotis (yes, again!) and okra curry. And I have to thank Ramu Kaka for this glorious improvement in my life – one where I eat my meals on time. Actually, make that one where I eat my meals.

I have terrible problem of not being able to eat alone. I mean, I love eating alone at home in front of the TV, or in hotel room, in front of the TV or a laptop streaming something nice. But at work, I cannot eat alone. Definitely not in a cafeteria which is full of pairs and groups of happy people stuffing their faces and laughing and joking and generally having a good time. And fortunately, all through my work life, barring a year and half back in 2007, I have always had amazing company for lunch. Mostly my team, who would accompany me to pick up whatever nonsense was served in the cafeteria and then talk absolutely useless stuff while I plodded my way through it.

But this stopped when I joined my current organisation. For two reasons – one most folks work from 2, so they finish their lunch and arrive. Two, I almost always have meetings during the general lunch hours, and these are not pre-scheduled meetings, so I cannot give a proper timeline to the folks around, about my availability. So basically no company for lunch – which eventually became no lunch. I know, bad me.

On good days, I would walk up to the 14th floor, and pick up stuff that I could carry back to my desk – a bowl of sprouts, a sandwich, a chocolate (I love my priorities) or a pack of cookies and eat it while I worked. This was helpful because I could clear my mails in this half hour, but was also bad because I was always available so I could be called away anytime, my half eaten stuff waiting for me to return. But, it was not a good thing, and definitely not a healthy thing to do. The only way I could have a good lunch at my desk was if I packed one, and hahaha, are you kidding me?

Then, 3 weeks ago, we moved to the new place. Someone shared the contact of a cook on the community’s whatsapp group, and on a whim I called. I spoke for maybe 5 minutes, and all of a sudden I had a full fledged cook who said he could start working for us the same week  – to cook what I had requested. And that’s how Ramu Kaka entered our lives. And my first thought was – what an original name.

To be honest, it is a bit unfair to call him kaka, because I am pretty sure he is younger to me, but Ramu goes so well with kaka that it would be unfair to let it go. Ramu kaka is from Jharkhand, and works in multiple houses in our society. The moment he entered the kitchen – with an exaggerated swagger, if I might add – he took charge like a pro. All you need to tell him is what needs to be cooked and he begins his brilliant multitasking – and is done within an hour. And we are left with a clean kitchen, vessels with the freshly made food, and delicious smells wafting through the kitchen.

Anyway, Ramu Kaka changed my world. From eating junk, to not eating, to conveniently forgetting to eat, I now carry a dabba to office. I have never been the dabba carrying kind, except for days when the mother was visiting and insisted on cooking through the day. And every day, before I leave, I hop into the kitchen, pick boxes from my collection of Tupperware which is all gifted by my mother thanks to her fascination towards storage material, and pack a lunch for myself and The Dude.

And I eat. The koftas and the rajma and the chole. The amazing kaddu curry – which I did not believe could be a reality, because hello, kaddu. I eat it all up. Still at my desk, but atleast I have a lunch. And I look forward to see what else he can cook – to which he has said ‘anything, just tell me what you want – if required google it.’

I am a bit wary about declaring the good things for the worry of jinxing it, but it will be unfair to vent out rants and not voice the gratitude. And this is just that.

For now, all hail Ramu kaka!

Write

I like how wordpress has it’s ‘Write’ button right at the front of your page. And it just says ‘Write’. Not ‘Compose’ or ‘New post’ or something slightly more, for lack of a better word, flowery. Just, plain, straight, write. Like an order.

Anyway, so I was wondering just about a few minutes ago, as to why people write at all. Not referring to ‘write because writing is your job’, or because ‘the world deserves to know your brilliant ideas’, but write, in general, especially blog posts. Or even in their journals. To make memories, yes, but not everything you read online is a diary entry of sorts. So why?

The answer, I believe (because I am most capable of having interviews with the self), is too many thoughts. Not memories, not ideas, not stories, general thoughts. Mostly fleeting, these thoughts do not have the power to become opinions and come out in discussions necessarily, or more often, these are thoughts you are not even sure who you can share with. I mean, you might have a person or two in your life who will actually be interested in listening to what you have to say, but the absolutely exhausting and busy lives we lead, they won’t always be available. Also, the sheer frivolousness of these thoughts, will sometimes stop you from mouthing them out in the open. I mean, when you are talking you can say ‘the traffic was terrible!’ but while writing you can say exactly how terrible without a person in front, look like they are all set to to tear your head off for the excruciating amount of detailing you are capable of.

Hence, writing. No one is here to judge you, unless ofcourse, you are very famous, in which case you have crossed over the line, and are some sort of a writer (ok, professional blogger, before the elitist ‘writers’ sue me) who people look forward to read. Folks who read someone who just writes for the want to pen down their thoughts before they forget, will mostly be people who have similar thoughts, who feel good about having company when it comes to handling little things like terrible twos among toddlers, or a last moment assignment at work, or mid-life crisis. Even if the people reading you do not associate with your thoughts at all, they just play along because you get to know someone else’s perspective. There are arguments, but far and few, especially if the topic is controversial or if the writer gets personal about some trait that unfortunately, you identify with. But all in all, it’s a peaceful world of coexistence.

Which is why, while my book-reading tends to fluctuate, I am somehow addicted to checking out my blog feed every couple of days. I sometimes wonder what I get out of knowing the on-goings of someone else’s life, people I hardly know, and their thoughts on topics that I don’t relate to at all. But there is a fair bit of calm I get from reading these posts.  Whether it’s for the way they describe what they ate, or the funny story of their kid at school, or heartbreaks they had and recovered from. If you think of it, they are actually like little stories – only the writer is not trying to reach out to the world with it. It’s just out there, visible to all, but seen only by someone who chances upon it, and realizes that it is worth their time.

Which might be yet another reason why people write. Because thought they can’t see who, the stats say that there is someone sitting in another part of the world, reading what you have written, and nodding along going ‘Oh boy, I get you’.

7/12

These are bad times. Bad-bad times. I seem to be falling into an endless abyss of problems with a monetary impact. Like I am not sure if I mentioned this, but I damaged my pretty iPhone’s screen yet again, a couple of months ago. Mind it, it is still not 2 years old. So yes, after spending money on getting a fake screen and using it for 8 months, I damaged it yet again – this time because Zo sat on it (true story). So it didn’t break, but something went wrong and it had a permanent old Doordarshan style flickering going on, till I replaced it, yet again.

Only, now, the battery said goodbye. The phone would randomly switch off, and after a while it became a landline, by which I mean it had to be continuously kept on charge, which pretty much destroys the purpose of a ‘mobile’ phone I think. So I decided that I had enough of it and shifted my sim to a standard dual sim phone my company provides. So much for style.

Then, a bus hit my car. Or as the driver suggested – my car hit and scratched the bus. I like this story a lot. I have tiny i10 that I drive with utmost care (and worry) and don’t even try to squeeze into gaps a Fortuner would have just passed through. One such day as I was inching through the mess that is the traffic inside my office area, a large – strike that – a ginormous Volvo bus that was next to me, slowly sidled to it’s right, and hit my rear view mirror, which got flattened to the other side, with the mirror dangling off a wire. But here’s the thing. While I am a very cautious driver, I am also a very angry one. So I showed my temper through vigorous honking, which is saying something, because I avoid honking at all costs.

Now the bus driver, I presume, got all defensive at my obvious distraught, and kept going till we both were out of the jam. Here, he stopped the bus in the middle of the road (horizontally, blocking all traffic), got off, and came to me and said – ‘Aapki gadi ne meri bus ko scratch kar diya’. I gaped at him for a minute, the mirror still dangling, until my UP upbringing came to fore and I rolled down the windows and well, started shouting at him about the ridiculousness of the claim. By this time, people had gathered around because – 1) Woman driver 2)  The bus had blocked their path. And for one of the two reasons started supporting me vociferously.  In fact, at one point, amidst all the shouting a guy told me to ‘Calm down, I’m handling this right?’ , much to my indignation, because it was my car and I deserved the road rage. Anyhow, nothing came of all this and we all eventually went home and now my mirror is in place, held by a paper clip and some tape. Sad.

Then, last week, our Fridge conked off. This is right when we are planning to move out anyway and have tonnes of expenses coming up. But then you can’t live without a fridge, and we are planning to let out this place, which meant we had to get another fridge. And we did. But this was yet another blow. And just when we were getting cooling back into our lives with the fridge, my car’s AC stopped functioning, as if to balance it out.

Then on Saturday, The Dude got it all fixed up, and we drove merrily to my parent’s place, and parked the car, and for no reason, some idiot visitor from some other house bumped into my car from behind and BROKE the number plate into half. I mean seriously. Is there no end to this drama? So yes, I am driving with half a number plate that I plan to stick with Feviquik – and pray it works.

And in between all this, all our expensive online purchases started getting jinxed too. First it was a Marshall speaker the Dude had been eyeing for very long. It arrived, we set it up and all was hunky dory till the next morning when it just wouldn’t switch on. Huh? What? Ofcourse we had to return it. Then we ordered an Amazon Fire Stick, which also, seriously, stopped working after day 2. By this time I had given up. And while they did send a replacement for the latter, I am extremely worried about things in general. We even tried ignoring all this spate of bad luck and re-ordered the speaker from another site, which did not move from ‘processing’ to ‘shipped’ for a week, after which we finally cancelled it.

Then, there are multiple (and I mean multiple) issues with the house as we get it done. I mean, who knew it was so much work right? And all this just when I had started feeling very ‘in control’.  But turns out, there is no such state, in reality. So all I can do is, cross my fingers, hope for things to get better, and sip on this interesting Ayurvedic Tea from Tata tea – and repeat to myself all of whatsapp’s most cliched messages. Keep Calm. Take one day at a time. This too shall pass. Life’s what happens when you are busy making other plans.

Or my personal favorite, Screw this.