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.

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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!

October Monday*

It has not been a very happy beginning to my week, because no week that starts with me having an episode with my car can be happy. Before one jumps to conclusions that I seem to have way too many episodes with my car, going by the fact that I wrote about one just 2 posts ago, let me assure you, it isn’t the episodes that frequent, it is the damn posting that is infrequent. Because I am a bloody careful driver – almost a worried one in fact – and I do not f**king break rules. So when these episodes happen to me, I am very, very pissed.

Back to my episode metric, I have been driving for a year and 5 months now, and I have had three situations. 1) When I scraped my car on a pillar inside my office parking because I over estimated the space between said pillar and an idiotically parked cab 2) When the stupid bus driver smashed my mirror and blamed me for scratching his bus and 3) Today, when a cab squeezing in through my right made me swerve nervously and bang into a cab on my left (my fault, I know).

But today was exceptionally annoying because, I kinda was at fault – which annoys me more somehow – and add to that, while the cab guy left after mouthing a few abuses (the damage was some paint from my bumper transferred to this door), another guy in another car, who had no business whatsoever and was just bloody audience, started gesticulating towards me to pull over! Ofcourse I didn’t and ofcourse I was put off and quite obviously, in conclusion, today sucks.

Well, that’s just the beginning of the week, and I assume I should just gear up for all that’s coming up. The long Diwali break (for those who took it, we had a day off exactly) is over, which means that there a lot of folks on the floor sending mails about sweets, and that is seriously hard to resist. I am however, in control, and have stuck to just two pieces, one kaju katli and one mango barfi. I totally love kaju barfi though it is amazing how they can pack so much richness and calories in that tiny sweet. Yum. There are also excited wishes of ‘Belated’ Happy Diwalis floating around quite a bit.

Which brings to back to a very recent observation about loud people. I mean the literal loud, screaming at the top of their voices kind. I always had a theory that maybe they were hard of hearing hence they raise their voices to ensure they can be heard because they themselves can’t. You know, like the older generation which still believes in screaming into the phone when the signal is poor like that would fix everything. But no, that doesn’t seem to be the case because I have come across this category of folks, who are loud and proud (of it). Like, they create noise in general and then create more noise celebrating their extraordinary ability to create said noise. And the whole world is gifted noise and I am gifted a migraine.

Which also makes me want to give a special mention to people who really believe that they can do no wrong. No one wants to be wrong, I agree, I hate it myself, but unfortunately, there are times when you just are wrong. And maybe you didn’t know it then. But when you do, why is it difficult to accept the mistake and move on? Seriously. If I were to choose between someone who makes 10 mistakes a minute but accepts them, and one who makes 1 mistake a minute but refuses to, I would choose the first in a blink. And yes, I would kick myself for it if 10-mistakes-a-minute continues it in future, maybe even kick him, but I would still, never regret giving him a chance over the latter. Because, it is just, more, annoying. Period.

Anyway, all this extra dose of happiness in one day had me so overwhelmed that I poured it out in this post, though it hasn’t all been so bad. As in, it’s been good, and bad, and good again, the typical cycle of things. But I will restrict to this for now, and write about brighter, more beautiful aspects of my very happening life in a different post. Hopefully on a day that doesn’t start like this.

Till then, wish well for me. Thank you.

*Yes, we are accepting awards for pathetic titles now.

Zo-oming in

Zo is turning 6 this week and I have started feeling like the typical mum of a 6 year old does – amazed at how the little one is not so little, and bawling at the fact that she’s growing up so fast. It is not cool, the way I feel, and I do not like it one bit.

This is actually the only reason I am on the blog right now, furiously typing away before I decide that what I am writing is all gibberish and then close this – sometimes (thankfully) saving the draft, and at other times, losing out completely on the memory that could have been. The problem is, I also feel that I am forgetting how it used to be – especially with Zo. The other day, I read this one post when she was 2, and it felt like I had made it all up because it sounded so cute – only I did not. I never do. I don’t even post an opinion till I feel absolutely strongly about it, because if it is a fleeting thought, it will pass, but it will stay recorded here for eternity (or till the internet exists), and years later when I will be old and grey (oh who am I kidding, that day is today), I will be like ‘who is this person writing all this’? And I don’t want that. Agreed, we all change over time, but I have started believing that we don’t really change, we just modify, adjust, compromise, but the core ‘us’ remains the same.

Well, I can say one thing for sure, it’s clear that my ability to go off-track while posting hasn’t changed at all. So back to Zo. Zo turns 6 this week and she is such a little person now (I am pretty sure I must said this before when she asked for apple or something when she was one but now I know that back then I had no clue what I was talking about), that I have full-fledged conversations with her about life and stuff. Not deep stuff, but like, when my boss sets up a late evening meeting knowing well that I would need to leave at that time, I tell her, and she understands, sympathizes even. It is an awesome thing really.

Another thing that’s happened is that she reads now. Reads, reads – not reads alphabets, or tries to form words using phonetics – reads. She started reading small books towards the end of last year itself (earning her the ‘passionate reader’ title in her graduation announcement, I think I mentioned it. If not – she was called that, and fashionista. Yes, mommy was very proud), but now, she reads Enid Blyton. I think this is it, I think if this continues, and I pray to God it does, I will feel extremely accomplished. Anyhow, the by-product of this that we have what we call ‘reading sessions’ (very cutely pronounced as ‘sections’ till a few months ago. Oh God my baby is all grown up), where we both snuggle and read our respective books, silently. Bliss, by the way, is this.

She is crazy sensitive too – in a funny way. Like if she accidentally bumps her head against yours, whether you react or not, she will cry, not for herself, but for you. It is adorable, almost heartbreaking till it gets annoying because she usually doesn’t stop crying if she starts. Which in mommy concepts means has a potential to turn into a coughing fit or a cold, both of which are terrible things.

She is an out and out fashion-fiend who will explain the difference between off-shoulder and cold shoulder (she did, to The Dude, it was fun), knows about ‘occasion-appropriate’ dressing and helps me pick my own outfits (I mean real advise here). Admitted that all her fashion sense is pretty much an offshoot of what I think, but then she also bluntly states that she’s a mini-me. Yes, I am basking in all this happiness till it lasts.

There is a lot more that’s there, and I wish I could store it all. I was wondering yesterday how good it would be if the Black mirror episode where you could revisit thoughts from the past (much like the penseive in Harry Potter) was true. I would just need to replay a record from the past and I would never lose sight of all that was. We wouldn’t constantly worry about losing out on precious memories – something that I do a lot these days. But then I think, maybe, it is this inaccessibility that makes the times gone by all the more amazing.

Because all that stays are these little bits, through photographs, and these intermittent blog posts, a few chats and mails, that remind you only of the parts that you actually want to remember.

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.