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.

Big fat ten

Last Friday, The Dude and I completed 10 years of legal togetherness. It was a nice day. We took the day off and then went to our new house because the designers were to have a final look and collect the keys from us to finally start the interiors. And for once, they reached before us on time, which was like a gift in itself, because come on, who does that anymore anyway? So we met them, and were entering the building when we realised that we had forgotten something small – small in size and not importance (unfortunately) – the keys. So we drove all the way back through the traffic and got them keys. In the middle of all this I took a work call I had been anticipating all morning, and that lasted 3 minutes.

Then we went to this little cafe on the way, called the Driven cafe. It has like this bike/car theme to it, you know where all the decor is essentially from a garage? But it was nice. We decided to go sit upstairs because we assumed it would be nicer. It was alright. There was a guy sitting there scrolling through his phone with earplugs and a T-shirt with the cafe name on. So we waited for him to turn around and maybe get a menu or something because we have seen restaurants and cafes do that in the past. But that didn’t happen, so I sat and clicked pictures of the place and The Dude went down to find out that it was all self-service and the menu was on the blackboard, which I thought was very European, and also very lazy.

Then we ordered some coffee, I was about to order the regular Americano I prefer at cafes when I saw an ‘Indie-Americano’. I had to ask ofcourse, because this was 30 bucks or 45% more expensive that the former. The lady nicely told me that they would add haldi to the black coffee. I don’t know if you know that I am quite adventurous and a real risk taker when it comes to trying new food, but this was way too much for me. I mean 30 Rupees for a pinch of haldi in my black coffee is worse than that whole haldi doodh being sold as turmeric latter drama. So I refused it and went ahead with my regular Americano.

I also had red velvet cake and cream cheese in a jar, which was quite awesome but paled in comparison to the weather outside – grey and rainy. It was also absolutely peaceful – because we were inside. The place was playing the kind of music that kids these days listen to, but we were ok because the alternative was to hear the cars honking on the busy street. We spent a good 2 hours chatting and talking nonstop,  before we got back home to sleep for a while, which meant I slept and The Dude sat and scrolled through his phone, which is also the usual meaning of afternoon siestas in our household.

In the evening, we had decided on a nice place for dinner to celebrate. I had bought a dress for this, which is pretty much a lie because I had generally bought a dress which I do quite regularly because Online shopping is so awesome and it was just that I hadn’t worn it as yet. Just like the other few clothes I haven’t worn as yet, but this one made the cut and was deemed as my anniversary dress because we do things like that.

The place was nice, the food was good, though the portions were sort of small. I really didn’t mind it as much because that would mean 1) I would have space for dessert, something I miss every time despite my love for sweets because I am already too full by the time we reach the end 2) I wouldn’t end up with a balloon of a stomach destroying my ‘outfit’. Anyhow, it was a good evening, filled with a lot of talking and random discussions and before we knew it was almost 11 and time to head back home.

At home we sat for maybe another hour or so in our beautiful 19th floor balcony, talking and chatting about work, and the house and Zo, before we finally headed back to bed, content. The good part was that I felt it had been a happy day, one well spent.

The best part was that it felt exactly like every single day I have spent with this guy in the past 10 years.

 

Horrible people

I have concluded that there are a lot of nasty people in this world. If you are wondering why it took me 34 long years to figure this out, umm, I don’t know. But better late that never they say and I say okay.

Anyway, when I am saying nasty, I mean real nasty – the kind who seem to get pleasure out of saying hurtful things to others. Now don’t get me wrong – I do not mind, in fact believe in, being hurtful to horrible people – but it is always in reciprocation. Like if you are sitting in a café, sipping on your Latte, and someone walks up to you and goes ‘Hey!’ and you are like ‘Hey’ and then they are like ‘Long time’ and you are like ‘yeah, very long!’ and then they are like ‘Let me join you’ and you are like ‘Sure’, and then they sit down and say ‘by the way why are you so stupid?’

Now here it is perfectly normal to say, ‘Oh no, looks like you are confusing me with someone, maybe you yourself. OR YOUR WHOLE FREAKING FAMILY.’  Hurtful right?  You might even call it on overkill, bringing in the family and all but I still believe that this is acceptable. Bottom line, meanness in reciprocation is not meanness but justice.

So in the context of the above, I am talking of the person who came up to the person drinking his latte, and not the latte drinker himself. I think you get my point. Yeah, so I think that the world is full of such people. They are there everywhere, like flies, buzzing around and annoying you like that’s the sole purpose of their life. Only, the flies are actually looking for food, and I am sure the buzzing has some relevance too, but these nasty people are like that for no particular reason.

You can identify a nasty person by the way he reacts to a happy update or piece of information about anyone except for himself. Like if you tell a person in this category, that ‘Do you know X got promoted?’ his response will be dismissal, or shock, or sarcasm, basically anything but genuine happiness. In fact, if you think showing genuine happiness on another person’s success is tough, let me clarify that this category will also not respond with a neutral stance which as per my personal belief is what one maintains if they don’t feel that the person deserves it. They will react in the manner best suited to their kind, i.e. nastily.

Some other examples* of nastiness can be –

  • When you tell someone about the new home you bought and they react with “Why would you want to buy a house there? It’s so crowded!”
  • When you tell someone that you read with your child everyday and they react with “I would rather have my child be in sports than become a geek.”
  • When you tell someone about your child’s daycare and they say “I could never leave my child at a daycare, so unhygienic!”
  • When you tell someone that your child loves the pancakes you make for breakfast and they say “I don’t like giving sweet breakfasts to my child, it’s unhealthy’
  • When you say your daughter has a strong resemblance to her father and they say “Poor kid, she will end up looking like a guy!”

*Inspired by true events

Basically, I am talking of folks who think it is absolutely normal to voice their opinions, however hurtful, however mean, just because they can. They have no control over themselves, and no understanding of when they should stop. This kind also finds it hard to take hints, I have noticed, but that might be because all this nastiness has crept up their almost non-existent brains and replaced whatever little bit of IQ that existed (hopefully) in them.

Which is why, I strongly advocate avoiding people who tend to make unprovoked, unwarranted and definitely unacceptable statements, which technically they should shove up their even nastier behinds. But instead they vomit it out like it’s their birth right.

And all we can do is sit and hope they choke on it someday.

Rules

The community we live in has a lot of speed breakers inside. Must be the case with all residential places I assume. We have close to 9 bumps in the circle from the entry to the parking to the exit. It makes sense too, I said to The Dude, because at all points of time there are walkers, and children cycling or skateboarding around on the same pathways. But he mentioned that a lot of people had been questioning the relevance of these bumps, because they were quite annoying, and also that those who were missing the sensibility to drive slowly inside the community, would drive rash with or without the bumps.

I am not convinced but it made me wonder if that was the case, why do we have rules at all? If the rule-breakers would break rules anyway, and the rule-keepers would do the right thing, with or without the rules; who are the rules for? The only thing I can think of is that the rules are for the ones on the edge. The ones who are maybe doing the right thing not because it is the right thing to do, but because, they would be in trouble if they did not. And, additionally, they actually do not want to be in trouble.

Let’s take the example of kids. We have so many rules for kids. Like TV time is limited to an hour. Now the reason TV time is limited to an hour is because it is not good for their eyes, and also it makes the kid lazy and lethargic. Technically, if we were to tell the children that they were not supposed to watch TV for more than hour, because that would be bad for them, they should understand it. But they don’t. Because the joy of watching TV is much higher in their minds than the weak eyes and laziness that we scare them with. Heck, they couldn’t give a damn to these things. But then they are kids, and the assumption is they are not ‘mature’ enough to grasp these things. So we make rules. We switch off the TV in an hour, and we threaten them with punishments if they refuse or fail to do so. But then again, they are kids, and they aren’t expected to make sane decisions. They need rules.

But what explains the same thing for grownups? So you know you are not supposed to eat at your desk at work because the crumbs will attract pests. There is a written rule around it. Now there are three kinds of people here. Category 1, that believes that this makes sense, and so will never eat at their desk, because they know that it will attract pests. Category 2, that doesn’t believe this nonsense, and even if they do, they don’t care enough to abide by such rules, and they are ready to a take a chance and get caught. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?

Then there is Category 3. Category 3 finds this rule an inconvenience, and category 3 would readily eat at their desk if not for this rule. But because there is a rule, this category decides to not eat at its desk. Category 3 does not want any unnecessary trouble. For these guys, the pain of being caught breaking a rule is bigger than the pain of actually abiding by it, and so, they do. This is the category for which rules are made.

And assuming that there is an even distribution of people in all 3 categories – we end up having 66% of the people eventually abiding by the norm, whether or not they agree to it; as against the 33% it could have been otherwise. So the rules ensure that at least theoretically, we have the majority behave in what we call, the right way. Which honestly, is not too much of a price to pay. Which is also why those 9 speed bumps do not feature on my ‘list of things that annoy me’ as yet.

And we should all be thankful for that.

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.

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.