Day 5: Conversations..

Husband and I were watching CNN-IBN
after ages. We get only NDTV here, and it was nice watching something else for a change.

Me: (watching Rajdeep Sardesai) He looks so much older now. But then my memories of him are from 2002-2003.
Husband: And so different from 1994.
Me: 1994? I don’t quite remember seeing him then.
Husband: No? You haven’t seen Qayamat se Qayamat Tak?

That was when it sunk in. He was talking about Aamir Khan who Sardesai was interviewing, while I was taking of Sardesai. Sigh!

On a lazy Saturday, I was cuddling up to daughter and talking nonsense. It went on until she got fed up and said,
‘ Can you please not talk for a while? I’m trying to read!’

I had big plans of trying to wear a little make up, for a change, when I went back to work. Of course, that never happened. Most days I am in such a rush, that I’m lucky that I’m dressed completely. New Year’s Eve, I decided to dress up a bit. I had just put on some eyeliner. A tiny bit. Daughter takes one look and says,’ You look like an old woman with wrinkly skin.’

Well, just as well that I can’t do make-up.

The first of the holiday period, that I left Daughter and husband and went to work, she was in tears. However she soon copped on to the fact that she could get away with doing nothing the whole day, more easily with Daddy. At the end of the day, I would be greeted by a ragamuffin of a child. I suspect the only way I can change that is if I carry out my threat to chop off her hair if I see her all untidy like that 🙂

So Daughter loves Harry Potter. She has read and reread the Harry Potter series, a million times. She’s still reading them like she is doing a thesis on them. And every so often she tries to test my knowledge of the series. I’ve been alright until she started asking me things like people’s middle names and stuff. And nothing makes her happier than seeing me at a loss for words!

While on Harry Potter, daughter had never watched the movies until these holidays. We worked through the movies one by one. Of course, someone would hide behind a cushion at times, but would refuse to stop watching it! And of course there were some ‘ But that’s not the same in the book!’ moments 🙂

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No season for thanksgiving..

Or to be specific, there is no specific season for Thanksgiving – it happens all year around, doesn’t it? Especially when you have help pouring in, just when you need it.

Daughter and I had been ill since the beginning of this week. I recovered, but she got even more ill. One evening, her temperature spiked and I, to be honest, was a wreck. I was still ill, did not know any doctors I could rush to, had no option but to call around asking for information. My plan of action was to get her temperature down, for the time being, and get her to the doctor the next morning. It was a rainy day, roads jammed, cold winds blowing, there was no way I could take her anywhere that night.

Before I knew it, my cousins came over to us to their doctor, a really nice doctor, who, btw,was really nice. My friends called in with offers of food, transport, and any other thing that we might need. It was a mad, mad day when everything that could go wrong, did, but also a day when I got all the help I could have asked for and much, much more.

I can’t even begin to express how grateful I feel. It’s tough when you are alone, but all the people I have here, never lets me feel alone. Knowing that help is just a phone call away, and sometimes, even that phone call isn’t needed, is such a huge support. It’s times like these that feel truly grateful, for family and friends that I can turn to. And I just hope I can be there for them in their hours of need.

The Best and the Worst of two worlds..

Living away from a place, in a lot of ways, makes you a stranger, ill equipped to deal with simple things, sometimes..

– Talking about the weather doesn’t make a conversation starter. These days, if I start a conversation with the weather, more often than not, I am met with a blank stare. I’m sure the other person must be thinking I’m a little soft in the head. On the other hand, if you ask about their children – you can be rest assured that you might not need to contribute much for the rest of the conversation 🙂

– You feel decidedly unhappy when it rains, and people think you’re crazy. Yes, the sight of sun streaming in, still makes me happy 🙂 Years of yearning for the sun does that to you, I guess. Just this morning, I rearranged all my balconies such that my plants get the optimal level of sunlight. The only complaint I have is that at the moment, one of my balconies – the largest one, gets no sunlight at all. Can’t get everything, I guess.

– You almost buy clothes without trying them on, only to remember that I can’t just return them later. It sure helps in reducing random buying though. It works only for clothes – I wish it were more effective for food as well.

– Random people being rude to you, for no reason at all. While I do understand that it must have been the over all stress and chaos that makes them rude, it takes me back at first, because I start wondering, what I did to trigger it.

Of course, there are plenty of habits which I’ve acquired here, that is going to make my life tough if/when I do need to go back. I’m going to miss the delicious breakfasts I get to make -ready made dosa batter to the rescue. And of course the gorgeous weather will ensure that my batter will rise- when I end up buying a grinder. Being able to step out on a Sunday evening and not feeling desolate at the sight of closed shops, even if one had no plans of shopping.

But what I will miss the most is the ease of meeting family. I had family over last week, and it was such a wonderful time. Going out, meeting relatives, sitting around, chatting, gossiping, eating.. What fun it was! Of course, it helps when you have aunts and uncles who are closer to your age than your parents 🙂 How lucky would I be, if I could get all this in one place 🙂 Or at the very least, get to stay on here…

For now, husband is going to be here on holiday in December, tickets are booked, plans fixed and we can’t wait! We’re counting days now!

Off on a short break..

We have real bad luck when it comes to weather on holidays. Not that it really makes a huge difference – we still have a lot of fun, but always end up wondering what is that link between us and the holidays?

For the last couple of years, we ended up going to the US for holdiays. People started asking us if we have relatives there. Each year, by the time, autumn starts, we get antsy. We feel the need to flee from the cold cold weather here. Both times, bad weather dogged us. Once there was a hurricane that almost derailed our trip. And the weather was cold cold cold! Last time as well, the weather was colder than normal. It almost feels as if we take bad weather with us. This time, we decided to stay here during December(why take bad weather to other parts of the world, see, how kind we are ;)) , and travel in autumn instead. We wanted to go to someplace in Europe and that would be difficult in December, given the weather.

I was torn between Turkey and Greece, when a friend of ours uploaded pictures of his holiday here. That settled it. We decided to finalize Greece.

So off we go tomorrow to Athens, and after a couple of days there to Santorini! We are all super excited, packing is yet to be completed, school work still needs doing, haven’t managed to get all the things I had planned, sorted. But nothing matters because our holiday is about to start! All we need is good weather now 🙂 See you all at the other end of the break!

If only I could capture smells..

.. because that is about all that I did not manage to get hold of, in our holiday to India.

When daughter was little, husband used to inhale her baby fragrance and wish that we could capture it for eternity. That is the one thing I wish too, now, back after my 8 week-long holiday.

The aroma of mom’s cooking,

the fragrance of flowers lingering on after collecting flowers for the pookalam,

the fragrance of properly fermented dosas,

of ripe, juicy jackfruits,

the smell of wood fired ovens – I can’t get enough of it..

I guess, I don’t need to say that I am terribly, terribly homesick. If there is anything bad about a holiday at home, it is the returning. How I wish I could just bypass it entirely. This holiday was a mixture of everything, a roller coaster of emotions, combined with the excitement of my and Poohi’s very first Onam in Kerala, being around to celebrate my great-aunt’s 90th birthday, meeting relatives, rejoicing in the way Poohi enjoyed with all her cousins and basking in the love one receives from everyone… Even if I did not manage to capture smells, I did manage to capture the sights, and we were so very lucky to get to meet Deeps and Namnam 🙂

I do owe apologies to everyone who I did not manage to call while in India. I will call you all over the next few days.

Managing Expectations

In continuation to my previous post, I wanted to add a few more thoughts.

In my working life, one of the things that I used to stress to my team was on the importance of managing expectations. There were several instances where people would commit to more than they could deliver, or to time lines which were just not practical or possible, for that matter. It did far more harm to then have to go back to the client and tell them that the work item that was promised could not be delivered on time.  We have an unexplicable urge ‘to please’ people. So many times, people say ‘yes’ to things, to avoid conflict, but then end in bigger conflicts than what would have been, if they had handled it right the first time.

Managing expectation, in my experience, is the crux of all relationships, be it professional or personal. It makes much better sense to set expectations right, rather than set high expectations and fail to deliver.

And it works both ways. Some children have a sense of entitlement that is mind boggling. I remember having a conversation with somebody who was angry at his parents, because he needed money for something and his parents refused – they said they did not have it. Now this fellow is well educated, in a well paying job, surely time to stop expecting handouts from his parents? I feel it is totally fine for his parents to have refused, but he kept saying that they had enough to spare. Whether they had enough or not – surely, it is their decision. Can’t they decide what they want to do with their hard earned money? Does being somebody’s son or daughter entitle us to everything they own? I think once parents have brought us up, given us an education, we really cannot expect handouts from them. If they have money, I would rather that they kept it and used it for something they like. Have some fun, go on holidays..

There are other instances of parents assumed to be ready made, free, babysitters. I find that really unfair. Even more so, when sometimes, they are uprooted from where they are comfortable, and brought to places(sometimes abroad), where they know nobody, have no life for themselves, and have the job of looking after the grandkids.  It is perfectly acceptable if the parents want to do it, but sometimes, they just do not know how to say no and end up in a situation where everybody is unhappy.

The same goes for parents. Just because they have brought us up, does not give them a ‘right’ over our lives. I am sure that most children would love to be there for their parents, but it works much better when expectations are managed and set.  There are families where the parents live with their son and have a miserable time, because they cannot understand why their daughter-in-law comes home so late from work.  Their son coming back late is perfectly acceptable, but not for the daughter-in-law. It really helps if expectations are set right in the first instance. The fact that both of them hold down jobs and that both their jobs are equally important is something that is best understood at the beginning rather than after things spin off into a point of no return. Pixie’s comment on this post is one such example.

Unreasonable expectations from all quarters can be equally de-stabilizing. Be it from the younger generation or the older. It makes life so much easier, if we could all set, manage and handle expectations at all fronts. Although I have to admit, managing expectations in professional life is a cake-walk in comparison to the managing expectations in personal life.