Safe.

That’s what my daughter feels in her school. I asked. I keep asking, actually. As a parent, more than how much they ‘teach’, I worry about how happy she feels at school. And fingers crossed she will continue to feel that way.

About a year ago, when my daughter was moving from Infant to Junior school (infant schools are uptil year 2, and junior schools from year 3 to year 6), we had a parent’s evening at the new school. The head teacher said something that stayed with me,’ Thank you for entrusting us with your children, we will endeavor to keep them safe and do the best we can to ensure that they are in a safe and happy environment’.

Across multiple pamphlets, we got the message about safety of children, and how that was paramount for the school. It made me feel comfortable. Of course, anything could happen, but the fact that the school kept reinforcing safety and the fact that while at school, the children were the school’s responsibility, makes you feel a tiny bit more secure. It helped there are rules, children are made aware of, of stranger danger, personal space and publicly lauded for being alert and aware of people around them. That coupled with reinforcement from home, about the dangers lurking around, is all we can do to try to keep our children safe. We can’t ensure safety at all times, but we can try, at the very least.

Contrast that with the school in Bangalore(VIBGYOR), and the way it dealt with the rape of their 6 year old student. It makes me want to throw up as I read the details. One horror after the other, and even worse, the school refuses to own any responsibility for a rape that happened during school hours, by the school staff, and was hushed up by the school staff. Even if you assume that the school had nothing to do with it, it was all done by the staff, one has to wonder what kind of culture is the school management encouraging, 1. By having staff of this sort, 2. By not taking action when it does find out about this. Makes me wonder, what kind of ‘education’ can a school like this impart.

I just hope that this translates into some sort of action that sees schools taking their responsibility seriously. In a lot of countries, you have to undergo a series of checks before you are allowed to work with children. Even with checks like that, criminals do slip through the net, so it makes me wonder how much easier it must be in a place where there is no such method in place? I know for a fact that even as a parent if I want to volunteer at school here, I have to get that criminal check done.

I know parents who complain about it, about living in a paranoid society, but knowing the sort of things people could do, I have to say, I’ll happily undergo a few more checks, if it means that our children are a tiny bit safer.

I’m just hoping that this incident changes the way schools operate. For that, we need our government to sit up and take notice, to do what it takes to keep our children safe. And for parents who think like this, to think, for once, beyond their own situation.  Because while today we might just be worried about a few phone calls, who knows what’s in store for us in the future.

Tread Softly, Tread Lightly…

..tread rarely, as it was in our case.

Have I told you our treadmill?

No? Well, let’s get that corrected, shall we?

So. For a few years now, we’ve always had an exercise machine at home. I wish that translated into – ‘We are really fit people’, but you’ve heard about wishes and horses, haven’t you?

Some years back, when we moved out of London and to Leeds, husband decided that he needed something to keep fit. After a lot of research(he always does a LOT of research, no matter what it is), he zeroed in on a cross-trainer. I went with it, after all, looking after yourself is never a bad thing, right? Or so I thought.

It all started off well, we used it, to some extent. Him more than me, but he was the one who wanted it, I got plenty of exercise walking back and forth from school, or so I told myself. That phase of using the cross trainer for the purpose it was built for didn’t last much, though. Very soon, it turned into a coat rack. And soon, the layer of coats grew so much that it would be an exercise to just remove it. After about four years of languishing as a coat rack, the poor cross trainer got liberated when we decided to relocate to India. We gave it away to a friend, and our home was finally exercise-machine free.

In Bangalore we had a great gym in our apartment complex, but knowing me, it never got used. So many things to do before getting to the gym – proper gym clothes, proper gym shoes, towel.. One can’t go to the gym looking like something the cat dragged in! Not when half the others looked as if they had just stepped out of a salon! Too much pressure, I tell ya! Much better off walking up and down 11 flights of stairs. If only, I actually did that!

Husband came over for a holiday while we were there, and used the gym and came back gushing about how great it was. Inspired, I joined him a couple of times, and yes, it was wonderful. While it lasted. That phase ended as soon as husband went back to the UK. Soon I was busy with packing to relocate back, and I didn’t even need an excuse to never go near the gym again.

Once we got back here and had settled in our new home, husband started talking about a treadmill. He had enjoyed using it so much in Bangalore that he was convinced that he would use it. I was vehemently against it. I was sure that I didn’t want another exercise machine/coat rack. Husband had some other ideas. He had put on loads of weight in the time that we were in India and claimed that he needed to work out. What can you say, when he throws being fit and healthy at you, at least he wasn’t making the case for a 65 inch 3D HD TV (which by the way, he had already bought, much against my wishes, but that’s a story for another day). So I gave in.

The treadmill got delivered. It took us a few weeks to install it. And that too with the help of a technician that the treadmill company sent over. Finally we were good to go, albeit after about a month of buying it, I must add.

I used it once, found that the incline function was not working. Called up the help desk who asked me to try a few things. Nothing worked, so she asked me to open up the treadmill to check something out. Now, that was not a one person job, so I pushed it off for the weekend, which never came. I used the treadmill again, without the incline mode three more times(yes, I know exactly how much I’ve used it!). All this while, the person who wanted the treadmill the most, had not even touched it!

I never quite liked walking on the treadmill. I prefer walking outdoors, even in bad weather. There is something so liberating about walking in the open. So I would go walking, but never on the treadmill. Husband would just not do any exercise. The treadmill just stood in our lounge, occupying space and looking ugly.

Somewhere down the line, I went back to work, and that put a stop to even that once in two months use of the treadmill. It didn’t turn into a coat rack, but that had more to do with the fact that it wasn’t conveniently placed to be used as a coat rack.

In December, a colleague told me that she put her cross trainer on sale. Apparently January is the best time to put fitness equipment on sale because loads of people buy them after the calories overload during Christmas. I pestered husband to get the thing fixed and sold. Husband wasn’t convinced. He was sure he would use it, even though it had sat unused for the last 7 months!

Finally this last week, it has got fixed. It’s finally working properly now. So far we’ve used it 6 times in all. Now, that it’s working, all I want to do is sell it off! I’m just hoping that husband agrees to put it on the market and get rid of the eyesore that sits in the living room.

I’m just waiting for some exercise enthusiast to take this thing off us. And one thing is for sure, the next time husband talks about buying an exercise machine, I’m going to show him this post, to exercise his brain. Just in case he’s forgotten his case history with exercise machines. The only time I’m going to even think of getting an exercise machine is if we ever have a house with a separate room as a gym. Given the fact that the place we live in, it’s hard enough to find a house with an ensuite, I think I can safely say never:)

Blog withdrawal syndrome

Or something like that has afflicted me.

That urge to blog, to jot down things seems to have disappeared completely. I feel secretive and all I feel like is holding things close to myself. Why? I have no idea. I remember joking some time back, a couple of years back, actually, that I would hate to go back to work, if I couldn’t blog. But here I am, eating my own words. I don’t seem to miss blogging at all. As in, writing on my own blog.

I do read you guys, when I get a chance. But more often than not, commenting isn’t an option. Not when your reading time is while brushing your teeth or while gulping down breakfast. So I leave no footprints anywhere, a silent reader is what I’ve become.

And it seems perfect to me. Comfortable in reading and not writing, not putting my thoughts to paper…

What really has me puzzled is that I still seem to be able to do book reviews. Is it because book reviews reveal less of me? I don’t know.

To be honest, it’s not just blogs, it’s also Facebook. I just don’t feel like reading or posting. Can’t help wonder if I’m turning into a recluse. Any of you been through phases like this?

Silliness and me…

..goes hand in hand. It’s got to be said, even if it shows how silly I can be. Some might say, ‘what’s new?’. Well, this is extremely silly, even by my standards.

Until some time back, I used to think a lot before I drove the car. Think,as in, silly stuff like what shoes am I wearing. I would try not to wear new shoes and drive. More often than not, I would wear my tried and tested shoes every day. And since my driving was mainly restricted to ferrying Daughter around for activities, shopping, or at the very most, meeting friends, it was all doable. I remember once I took the car around for a test drive in a new pair of shoes because I so desperately wanted to wear them.

The other day, I realised that I’ve stopped thinking about what I’m wearing completely. No time, you see, these days for worrying about silly stuff. I consider myself lucky if I manage to jump into the car, completely dressed and reach work on time! These days, I just wear whatever I want, and only recently realised that I’ve not even realised what I was doing! All those wasted hours agonising over shoes to drive in! See, one more side effect if going back to work, no time to worry about silly, unimportant stuff.

Talking about clothes, did I tell you about the day when my clothes almost gave me a heart attack? Most mornings are crazy. I usually wear dresses with tights. Various shades of black, white and grey and black tights. Half the time I would be in too much hurry to check myself out properly before leaving for work. Just checking that my tights don’t have ladders and that I’m looking presentable over all is all I bother to check.

So this day, I drove to school, dropped daughter off, drove to work, parked, swung my legs out only to recoil in shock. I was wearing dark purple tights instead of black! And I hadn’t realised all this while. I have one pair of dark purple tights which under dim lights looks close to black. But my office is brightly lit, and my dress had no hint of purple in it. It would look just weird!

Now I would have to go back. To change my tights, of all possible things! There is a shopping centre near by but nothing would open before 9. I whipped off my sunglasses in frustration( it was a sunny day, for a change), only to see that my tights had miraculously changed colour to black!! It was those purple tinted glasses that almost made me drive back home!

Wasn’t it lucky that I took them off just in time! Or I would have been writing about driving back home only to realise that I had worn the right tights after all! How silly would that have been. But lesson learnt. Now I double check the colour of tights as well as scanning it for any sign of ladders:)

Creature of Habit

Turns out that I am a creature of habit.

For some reason, I had never thought of myself as a someone who followed patterns of behaviour. I would have most definitely classified myself as a completely random person. And that was how it was. Until recently when I realized that there was method to my madness.

I manage to park my car every single day in the same bay of cars. There might be other spaces, in fact there always is, better placed spaces too, but I just end up parking in the same general area. I don’t park on the same space though. A little bit of randomness still exists. And of course, some thought too. For instance, on the days when we had heavy winds forecast, I made sure to park the car away from any trees or poles that could possibly land on my car, didn’t want to come back to a wrecked car, you see. But still in the same darn bay!

And I’m not the only one. I meet others who park in the same way as I do. We’ve been meeting every morning, so regularly that we exchange our views on the weather, which certainly gives us plenty to talk about, I have to say.

Every single day, I plan to grab two glasses of water, as soon as I get in to work. Every single day, it stays a plan. I sit at my desk, completely forget about the water until I’m so thirsty that I’m gagging. Why?? Today, I did try to break that pattern. We have a huge carton of water bottles that we picked up from Costco sitting in the boot of the car. We always end up forgetting to take along water when we step out and end up buying water. This works out much cheaper, and if it sits in the boot, it is there when we need it. I grabbed a bottle, and have been sipping at it through the day.

Ever day, I rush back into the house, on my way out, to check if I’ve switched off everything, like irons, hair straighteners. I have never left them on, so far, but I can never remember if I have switched off everything, when I am about to get into the car and drive off. So just to put my mind at rest, I come back, open two doors, take off my shoes, go upstairs to check(of course, they are all switched off!), wear them shoes, lock the doors again, and drive off. Why, oh why do I do that!

I’ve been planning to get out of work at lunch time early enough to get hold of some tasty soup. The shop has limited quantities of soup and the popular ones get over rather quickly. So if I go late, it is more than likely that I will not get it. I know this, and yet end up late and missing the soup:( Asking for punishment, isn’t it?

And the crowning bit is, every single time I enter my password to unlock my laptop screen, I get it wrong the first time. And the second attempt is always successful. Every. Single. Time. How is that for consistency!

Daughter Tales

Daughter came home from school one day, all excited about some school work. They have been learning about Ancient Greece, and Daughter has been loving it. She loves History and Science, apparently, which is why she wants to be a dinosaur scientist. Don’t ask me how that’s related, but apparently it is.

So. Coming back to the original story, they had a professor who came and held a session on Ancient Greece. He told them lots of interesting things, but appaarently the most interesting thing was the fact that Ancient Greeks was that they had ‘tablets’ too. But, she clarified to us, ‘Their tablets weren’t like the iPads we have’, just in case we were in any doubt about it.

She has been reading all sorts of books. Last weekend we went to the library and she picked up a Percy Jackson book. It caught her interest has it had something to do with Ancient Greece. As you can see, everything is about Ancient Greece these days. But I’m not sure about this book. Any of you have any idea if it’s age appropriate for her?

Daughter, completely loves Harry Potter, as I’ve mentioned before. The other day she says, ‘You and Daddy are definitely Muggles, but I might still have magic’. Apparently she might still get a letter from Hogwarts, as she still isn’t 11!

Finally

This close. I was this close to successfully completing the marathon! I had even managed to do an extra post for the one that I missed. This close, three days to go and I managed to give up.

Well, more than actively give up, I just ran out of time to sit down and complete pending posts.. I still have half written posts which will never get posted. Or at least definitely not in this marathon.. I guess some things just have to be accepted. Like the fact that I am rubbish at marathons. I just shouldn’t attempt one. The only time I should attempt one is if I manage to consistently reply to comments on mine, and read all the unread, uncommented posts in my reader. Next time, one of you please do remind me that, instead of encouraging to take part, ok?

I’ve been busy. Sounds so routine, doesn’t it? When the laundry is overflowing from all directions, kitchen a mess, floors need vaccuming, posting on the blog doesn’t really strike one as urgent, I guess. What’s even worse, I still have all that work pending.. I barely manage to do a tiny bit of it, before more lands on my plate.

I’m reading a book called The P45 Diaries. Had read a few good reviews on twitter. So when I found it discounted on Kindle, I bought it. Have to say, I’m struggling with it. Still hopeful that it will turn interesting suddenly, but losing hope with every page I read. I was so fed up that I went and picked up a few books from the library at lunch time today. Can I say again, that I love it that I can go to the library at lunch time. Lugging books back to the car park at the end of the day, is another story though. Cold rain, and lugging books don’t go well together, but that is something I easily forget when I am picking up books.

It’s Friday today! Fridays are long, very long days for me, but I still love them :) Don’t we all? So what plans for the weekend? I’m just looking forward to relaxing, although I can tell you now that I’m quite sure my hopes will be dashed.

Have a lovely weekend, you guys, and I’ll see you when I see you!

Day 28: A meaningless post deserves no title.

Or in otherwords, I haven’t been able to think up a title. Mainly because it’s just a load of nonsense.

You know when you have loads of ideas for potential posts, all popping into your head, when you are at your busiest? And then when you do get the time to sit down to write them down, the mind is completely blank.

What was that brilliant idea that I had? Not a clue. Completely blank. I can’t even remember the vaguest of details, just the fact that I had some ideas and was jubilant that they would translate into posts. If only my memory worked.

I guess, there is nothing I can do about it. So now I have the job of racking my brains to think of something. I was thinking of quitting, and then realized that we had just 4 more days to go. That doesn’t sound too bad, does it? Doable? I guess(and hope, with fingers crossed).

Have I told you how much I’m enjoying my new job? Well, a lot, just in case you are in any doubt. The only time I wish I didn’t work is when I come home to see twitter full of excitement! Rahul G interviewed! By Arnab too! How annoying that not only did I miss it all, I don’t even get Arnab here. So I went around searching for the you tube link, but before that, read through all the tweets! Those sure sounded more funny and relevant that the interview. Maya, DreamyMommy, I’ve had such fun reading your tweets!

I did manage to get hold of the link to watch the interview, but it’s too late now to watch it. It’s time for bed. My eyes are refusing to stay open. But I do have my entertainment for tomorrow evening all sorted. It’s a date with RahulG and ArnabG ;)

Day Trip: Black Country Living Museum

Smitha:

Today’s post at the long forgotten travel blog :)

Originally posted on Any Excuse to Travel:

Last Saturday, we woke up, lazed around and then realized that we didn’t have an agenda for the day.

You see, most weekends have been busy. We end up having something or the other to do. This last Saturday, we had nothing planned. We didn’t even need to go grocery shopping! How jobless is that!

So after a heavy breakfast, we started discussing what to do, and zeroed in on driving down to Oxford. By the time we got ready and got into the car, we realized that it was too late to go to Oxford. It was past 12. Back to the phone, desperately searching for places to go to. We live a central location, so it turns that we are equidistant from most interesting places and equally far from every place!

Anyway, finally after doing a bit of research, we found the ‘The Black Country Living Museum’, which looked…

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I had forgotten how it feels.

I had completely forgotten…

That pride that fills your heart when you hear the national anthem, or the patriotic songs that you’ve been hearing for years. The lifting of hearts and spirits as we stand tall and sing the national anthem from the heart.

Days like the Independence Day and the Republic Day, which had been so part of us, until we moved abroad, was ao much fun to relive and also share with Daughter, for she had never experienced it before. So much that we took for granted, so much to be proud of.

I have a lot to be thankful for the last year we spent in India. It wasn’t the easiest of times, but it has given me memories that I will cherish and the hope that maybe one day, I would be back in India.

Happy Republic Day, everybody!