A Full Circle

This day last year. I do that a lot. Just a way of loiking back at stuff, I guess…

This day, last year, 26th of June 2012, was the day when we packed off our belongings, to India. We were in the middle of wrapping up our lives in the UK. Daughter and I were to go ahead, and move to Bangalore, because we didn’t want her to miss a lot of the school year there. Husband was supposed to join us later, but unexpectedly, there came up an opportunity for him to be in India for 6 weeks. That meant that he could come with us and keep visiting, while he was in India. And if we were lucky, he would be able to join us permanently soon.Too good to be true. And it was. That didn’t happen, at the very last minute, it got cancelled, and he had to stay back.

To cut a long story short, we moved to India and moved back, all in the span of a year. We just got our shipment from India. A full circle. Back where we started from. Not the same location, but back in the same country. How does it feel? Weird. But good weird. It was not in our fate, to be in India just yet, I guess. But it is nice here as well, back to being a family, back to everyday life like it was. Do I miss India. Of course! And hopefully, the next time we do this, we do it together, and stay there:)

Until then, I’m just glad that my shipment has brought me the things I was so missing. My grinder, I’ve had dosas after ages. And finally some of the curios that we had picked up, and kept safe, for when we live in Bangalore have seen the light of the day.

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Isn’t this gorgeous? I love these Liliput lane cottages!

If there is anything this whole exercise has taught us, it is to live in the moment. To live fully. And not wait for the time to go back to India, and then do stuff. Even if it is silly stuff like putting up the curios we picked up.

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Bus Chronicles 1

I had decided to start a weekly bus chronicle, since it has become the most happening part of my life. Only to find that I don’t even have enough to write about our bus rides on a weekly basis. Yes. I know. I do lead a sad life:)

– the bus I was traveling in, broke down! That is a first, and I was secretly excited, but had to hide it because everybody else looked rather annoyed. They must all have things to get to. Unlike me, who is rather jobless. Reminder to self,’ Go do some job search, the jobs don’t know you are looking for them!’.

– My seven-year old has become a faster runner than me. She’s caught the bus twice this week by running and reaching it just before the bus took off. Can’t tell you how grateful I was, saved us a wait of 30 minutes, and on cold, wet days, every minute counts!

– As I mentioned in another post, I was pleasantly surprised when the bus driver stopped mid way for us, I’ve just figured that it happens a lot here. Probably because it’s a small place, and they get to know the regulars. I’ve also seen people waving, blowing kisses to the drivers as they drive by. This is the first time, I’m living in a really small place and as you can see, it’s very different. So far, different in a nice way.

– This last couple of weeks, my luck with buses haven’t been so good. I’ve been complaining about buses coming before time, but these
last two weeks, the buses have been running late. When I am on my way to pick up daughter, the timing is rather tight. If the bus is late, I have no option, but to get a taxi. So now I have had some rather interesting conversations with taxi drivers which I’m afraid, needs a post of its own.

– I’ve been planning to make the most of my bus pass and travel all the way to Birmingham. Today, I went some part of the way. There are these Indian shops in Birmingham and I was hoping that they would be on the bus route. I made the mistake of not checking on the journey planner. I decided to walk on the wild side, and ended up in a bus going through a lot of rather shady areas. Clearly the ‘wild side’ was not for me:)

– You know you’ve become a regular when a bus driver tells you that he saw you somewhere and waved but you were too busy on the phone!

– Morning bus rides to school are a bit more interesting, with children and parents drama being played out in the buses. You find mothers at the end of their tether, children being naughty, and sometimes springing last-minute surprises on their mums -‘ I forgot to give you this, Mum’ which is sometimes an important communication from the school. And we, the rest of the bus gets to see the mother’s fury 🙂 And sometimes you get to see the most well-behaved children and the gentlest of the mothers, happily, on their way to school. It’s almost like a soothing balm.

– The trip after dropping Daughter off at school is no less interesting. You get to see people rushing to get to work, while some, like me, are on our way back home, so are less harried, and enjoying the peace. You also get to hear interesting phone conversations. No, no, I am not eavesdropping! Some people are loud enough for the whole bus to hear. Once I heard a Pakistani lady diss her sister-in-law. It was funny, to say the least 🙂 She had such issues with that lady 🙂 Of course, what she was aiming at was the point that if only her brother had selected someone from Pakistan rather than a lady who was brought up in the UK, life would have been so much smoother. Of course, smoother for whom would be my question :), which I kept to myself, of course 🙂

With all this happening, I have stopped carrying a book on my bus rides. So much more fun listening, and watching 🙂

A Full Circle

You understand what coming a full circle means at times like this.

Last year, we had been all excited, packing, planning and getting ready to move back to India. We hadn’t booked tickets, but pretty much everything else was done and dusted.

This year, I am getting ready to do the reverse. Packing, planning and getting ready to go back. I had never thought this would happen. My friends had been a little shocked that we had not booked return tickets as a back up. But then, I was super confident that we would settle in fine, and we did too. But fate, clearly had different plans. Husband’s job was the deal breaker. We had given it time till March, and now it is finally decision time.

We still haven’t booked tickets but the decision has been taken -kind of. There is really no option, as daughter puts it. So we have to just go. Do whatever it takes to get everything sorted and re-start the life we left there, but in a different city.

And how do I feel. Sad..but excited about being together as a family.. And all hope is not lost – yet. We can still try to come back here, only the next time, we are definitely moving back together after husband gets a job. That I guess, can count as a lesson learnt, I guess. And this time that we spent here, showed us that it is no big deal to relocate and settle down. It has reinforced our belief that we would not find it tough to resettle here. And this time, we have even more friends(family has always been there) to look forward to when we come back here. Actually, not just us, but daughter has her friends too. So yes, definitely more to look forward to, when we return.

For now, we pack our stuff, store our memories.. give away our plants and plan for a new life in the not-so-new country.

The weekend that was…

It wasn’t the kind of weekend that I would have written about, normally, but in the usual, boring weekends that seem to have become the routine, this last weekend was slightly, ever so slightly more exciting. That reminds me that I haven’t yet blogged about the weekends when husband was here – all our travel stories. One day, I’ll get down to it, hopefully before the year is out 🙂

Saturday morning dawned, or to be more accurate, I was woken up before dawn, by daughter who was super excited about a birthday party that she was invited to. It was at 10, but she wanted to be sure that we wouldn’t forget about it. If only that were an option. I would have gotten really cross at being woken up at 5:30, had it not been a huge kiss that woke me up.

Having woken up, both of us stayed in bed and read until it was a decent enough time to wake up, 6:30. Daughter refused to stay in bed any longer. Sigh! Here I was, happy that she is an early riser! Obviously, we were ready and all set, way before time. My domestic help came and went, and all daughter wanted to do was go. That is was an hour too early was no reason to stay at home and wait. Our friends were taking her to the party, and she couldn’t wait. Finally, we went downstairs, 10 mins early to wait for our friends, just in case the leave without her! Finally, she was off, and I got a few minutes to myself. I had planned to run to the gym and work out. Of course, knowing me, it stayed in the planning stage and I did a post in that time, instead, pushing away the thoughts of an overweight me, far, far, into the recesses of my mind, from which it dared not surface.

Daughter got back around one, and she and her friend still had loads of energy, which even the mid-afternoon sun refused to dissipate, so they played in the park for a bit until the mums had enough and pulled them home. Lunch sorted, daughter did some painting, and cutting up of paper -which has been her favourite hobby since the time she could hold scissors, while I decided to do something useful for a change. Our Wii-Fit Balance board had stopped working. It had been packed away last June, and I had not bothered setting it up until now. I had asked husband to do it, when he was here, but 6 weeks was not time enough to do that. So when I realized that I needed the exercise – rather desperately, I set it all up, only to realize that the balance board refused to start-up. Turns out , that we had forgotten to remove the batteries before packing it all up, and the batteries had drained out. Google, came to the rescue, with what seemed a too-simple-to-be-true solution. A friend of mine confirmed that they had done it and it worked, so Saturday afternoon, I decided, it was time for it to be implemented. And it worked! I can’t tell you how happy I am! Even my Wii-Fit was rather happy to see me back – after over a year, she said 🙂 Of course, she also said something about keeping up regular exercise to keep fit, but I chose to ignore that.

That fixed, I had some other important things to be fixed, like daughter’s teeth. She had two wobbly front teeth, which have been wobbling for a while but not enough to be pulled out. In the last few days, they started to protrude like rabbit’s teeth. Which was rather fun- for me 🙂 And annoying for daughter. So we decided to go to the dentist to see if they needed help to be pulled out. So we had an appointment in the evening, and the plan was that we would go straight from the dentist’s to Blossoms, the book store everybody has been talking about. TGND, especially 🙂 Ever since she’s told me about it, I’ve been dying to go there, and so has daughter.

At the dentist’s, it turns out that we did need to pull the teeth out. Daughter was rather brave, and just whimpered a wee bit, when she was injected with the anesthetic. She had to keep the cotton clamped tightly after the procedure for about half-an-hour, and that meant that she could not speak. If you know her, you’d know that it is just too much to ask her – to not talk for half an hour. So we ended up playing dumb charades to understand what she was saying, until, we hit upon the idea of her typing on the phone whatever she wanted to say. And of course, I had to call everybody up to tell them all about how brave she was when the dentist pulled out her teeth. *rolls eyes*

All this, of course, meant that we could not go to Blossoms on Saturday. We rescheduled it to Sunday, and turned in for the night. Waking up early has it’s advantages, daughter also goes to bed early. But then, if you’ve been woken up early, the chances are that you are equally knackered and all you want to do is crawl into bed as soon as possible.

Sunday morning, I woke up at an unholy hour again. This time, I can’t even blame daughter, I just woke up. It’s my darn body clock that refuses to let me sleep beyond 5:30! Since I had nothing better to do, I stood in the balcony, enjoying the view.

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Sunday, was busy with everything we had pushed away. Daughter has a couple of tests this week, so we went through it all. Did some reading, and some TV watching. The plan was to go to Blossoms in the afternoon. I had a bunch of books I was looking for, and daughter had one particular book that she wanted. We set off at around 3 in the afternoon. I was worried that we would get lazy if we left it too late. Plus with the next day being a school day, we wanted to be back early. We took an auto, and the auto driver, it turned out had no idea where the address was. So we went round and round before landing up in the correct place. We rushed in, all eager and excited. Daughter wanted Roald Dahl’s Enormous Crocodile, and was really disappointed to see that they did not have it either. She managed to pick up two other books though. Then it was my turn. Turns out that none of the books on my list were there. I thought I’d search through the book shelves, but by then daughter was bored. Now, that she had her books she wanted out. Of course, it did not help that the place was crowded, hot and stuffy, and we felt like we were permanently wallking over people or books. I had to give up. I might go there again on a weekday, alone. Hopefully that will give me enough time to browse and find some books I want to buy.

By the time we were out of the bookstore, daughter was hungry. I wasn’t sure how hungry she really was, but she claimed to be starving. So we set off, hoping to find something where we could find something she could eat. Walking a little distance, we came across Nandos! Now Nandos was one of our favourite places to eat at, in the UK. All three of us loved it. So in we went, and ordered. I wasn’t hungry, so I just ordered pita and hummus. And daughter had a kids meal. And polished it off too! I was surprised, to say the least. I hadn’t realized that she was that hungry. The food was delicious and so was my drink. A mocktail called Citrus Bliss. I would have liked it slighlty less sweet, but it was still delicious! I did not take any pictures of the food, we were too busy tucking in, even me. Non existent hunger comes to the surface once my eyes spy on yummy food 🙂

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We got back home, went downstairs, where daughter rode her bike, and I walked/ran after her, in the hope that it burns some of the calories I just consumed.

We ended the day with fruits as we were just too full after our rather early dinner. I could make a practice of this, you know, eating early and then having fruits. And for a change, it felt like a full weekend, rather than a boring one.

Pilgrimage of sorts..

…is what husband and I have been doing.

We’ve been going or rather, trying to go to those places we frequented years ago… The trek across Koramangala that we did to get that e-stamp paper, had its unexpected, fringe benefits. We managed to go to parts of Bangalore which we would have otherwise not had a chance to visit. Some of them, old haunts, roads where we used to walk…just because we felt like it.. Memories of a different time…

Husband was very keen on trying to revisit our old haunts, but we hadn’t quite managed it. The one month long holiday started to feel completely inadequate. We wished we could squeeze in more.

We did not get to go to all the places we wanted to, but we did manage to eat at most of the places husband wanted to. He was on a one point agenda of trying out all the restaurants he could. And I have to say, he seems to have done quite well:) I have started to crave a month of only home made food though:) If there is anything husband misses a lot, in the UK, it is the huge variety of Indian food. He goes more than a little crazy trying everything. Of course, the effect of it all is very visible on our waistlines. I need a serious detox diet to get myself back in shape. That and exercise. Side effects of a holiday.

So coming back to what I was talking about, both of us had our memories revived when we chanced upon the lanes we used to frequent, the apartments we had visited while our crazy apartment hunting phase. It gives you a certain kind of thrill to see the floor plans having been transformed into apartments, apartments where people are living their lives…

We had so much fun in the last couple of weeks, that it makes me sad that we might need to leave it all behind and go back. At the same time, it makes me grateful that we got this chance, albeit a short one, to live as a family in the home we had long dreamt about…

Some days..

…take the cake in being completely unproductive.

It being husband’s last few days of holiday, we have been trying to pack in as much as we can. While we do try to do fun stuff, some non-fun stuff like official work need tackling too. Especially those in which husband’s signature is required.
There was this insurance policy that had matured some time back, but we never got around to surrendering it. This time, we had it on our agenda. We had checked it out and found that we had misplaced the original documents, and needed to make an application which needed an e-stamp paper. The insurance company directed us to the bank which would issue us the stamp paper. That day, when we reached the bank, it was past 12, and we were told that the bank issued this only until 12. The next slot was after 4.

We had other things lined up for that day so decided to come back after 4. That never happened, and we left for Goa. Yesterday, we decided to tackle it and get done with it.

So off we went to the bank we had been earlier, making sure to reach on time.

We went and asked a lady about the e-stamp paper. She looked around and a man sauntered over, disinterested, and nodded at us. We assumed that the nod meant that he would help us. We sat down at his desk, and waited, and waited while he did something on his computer. Finally, I asked again, and he then got up and got us a form. We filled it and then he went back to his computer. After a bit, another man came and asked us to verify the details, and asked us to pay the fees for the stamp paper. That got done very quickly, and we were back to waiting. All this while we could see people(employees) loitering about, in a way which to us looked aimless, but who knows, may be that was part of their job description..

We had already spent close to an hour there, waiting, wondering about what exactly was going on when one of the men, walked over to us and said that they couldn’t do it. They would refund the money, and we could go elsewhere. We couldn’t believe our ears! And why was it not possible? The user is was not working. We were incredulous. User is not working could be fixed, couldnt it? But no, it just wasn’t possible today, and that was it.

So we asked them where else we could get this done. They gave us the name of another bank near a shopping mall. Off we went. Only to find out that there was no bank of any sort there. We checked on the phone, only to realize that they had given us very general directions we now needed to go to another location. The man at the bank had told us that nationalized banks would do it for us, so on the way we stopped at an SBI, just to check, in case we got lucky. But… getting lucky was certainly not the order of the day..

Next stop, was the bank that the man at the other bank told us. As I said, lucky we weren’t. They told us that they don’t do it either, but the sub-registrar at the BDA complex would do it. Sigh. This was just getting weirder, and we cursed ourselves for not having checked it out online before we set off on this never-seeming-to-end treasure hunt.

Off we went. Again. Hoping against hope. The sub registrar office was crowded. I had no clue who was an officer there and who was there on work. I managed to find someone who seemed like an official.

What are the chances that we would get lucky? None at all, it seems. They didn’t do it either. But they knew of a place that did. Well, we had heard that before, hadn’t we? This time, we googled, found a number, and called up the place to check before we left for our destination. Some one picked up the phone, which in itself was a good sign, and confirmed that they did, indeed sell e-stamp papers. We could have danced with joy.

By then we had been starving, it was past lunch time, and we had not had a chance to grab a bite. So we decided to grab a quick lunch before we set off to the next place. Now that we got in confirmed, we felt more optimistic.

Lunch sorted, we set off to this place and found the place easily, thanks to Google maps.

Some one handed us a form to fill, and asked us to have a seat. After 15 mins of nobody taking any action on our form( we had to get back home in time to pick up daughter when she came back from school), we were asked them how long it would take. Apparently the woman who does this work was away at lunch! And it certainly looked like we would be late if we waited.

All we could do was return. Both of us were knackered after hours of travelling in autos, waiting in the hot sun for some auto driver to agree to take us to all our destinations, and walking around I search of places… We decided to give up and start again tomorrow.

Some days are jinxed, and yesterday seemed more jinxed than usual!

Gazing out of a window…

… while travelling has to be one of my very favourite things to do.

I’ve enjoyed it as long back as I can remember. Growing up, our biggest journey used to be the journey from Jamshedpur to Kerala, every summer. It used to take 3+ days, and just gazing out as the train sped by, was just amazing.

The change in landscapes, as we traveled across states. Dry, arid land in some, gorgeous greenery in some, waiting for the river crossings with bated breadth. For some reason, we all used to love it. The largest bridge over a river, in India, it was a treat for us. We used to wait up for it, in case the crossing happened at night. And the disappoinment, in case we dozed off, despite our best efforts, was just massive. How little it took, to make us happy in those days.

River crossings apart, the other thing I used to love was watching the changing scenery, the houses that we whizzed past. Some opulent houses, some tiny huts, some buzzing with activity, some abandoned…

I would weave stories in my mind about the people who lived there, and their lives. I would imagine a farmer’s family, eating their dinner, as we rode by, just as dusk fell, to the sound of our train rushing past. I would imagine that the train would serve as their clock, timing their lunches or dinners, or maybe bedtimes.. or just a nuisance that would spoil their afternoon naps, until they just got so used to it that they no longer even noticed it..

Seeing ladies chatting with their neighbours, would make me wonder what they were discussing.. gossip? Or perhaps, the rising costs, or their children or maybe stuff that I could not even imagine in my wildest dreams. .. I would assign lives for them. That smartly dressed lady setting off on her scooter, would be a bank employee, the man waiting impatiently, at the railway crossing for our train to pass, was late for work, and was anticipating his boss’s disapproval. I could spend the whole day, looking out, with no-one for company, the stories in my head was enough to keep me busy.

What brought it all back? Yesterday, while we drove across Goa, I saw, what looked like an abandoned house. It was palatial, completely built(from the outside) but not painted, and looked completely abandoned. Weeds grew around it, and there was a sad haunted feel about it. Now, abandoned houses are the best for imagining and weaving a story around them. They would most definitely have a story of their own. A rich merchant, perhaps, who started building his dream home. A mini palace, everything was almost done, when he suffered such losses thathe had to just abandon the house. Bankruptcy threatened him but try as he might nobody was ready to buy it. People in the village were terrified that the land or house brought bad luck. What could explain such a sudden reversal of fortune?

Or maybe, the merchant refused to sell it. He hung on to it because it had a special place it his heart.. He knew that one day, he would be able to redo his house and live there.. Until then, it stayed there, neglected, uncared for, but thought of, fondly, with dreams still woven about it…

I suddenly realize that its been so long since I’ve been on a train journey, through lush fields, dry lands, and past little hamlets.. So long since I’ve done this, let my imagination run riot…

Conditional Respect – 2

Something that always upsets me is when I see people behaving badly with others who have no option but to keep quiet and bear it.

Sadly, I keep seeing instances of that. I had written about this a few years ago, but can’t help writing about this again.

Yesterday, we were at a supermarket, and as we were leaving, the security guy checked our bill and our purchases – standard procedure in most places these days. There was a family ahead of us who they found had one packet of something that was not reflected on the bill. Probably a billing mistake, I am sure they wouldn’t have been stealing it, but as soon as the security guy pointed it out, they blew up, shouted at him, and threw the packet, rather aggressively, into the shop and stormed off. Totally over-the-top reaction, in my opinion. I am sure there was a polite way of handling it, especially because the security guy was quite polite.

This morning, again, at another supermarket(which begs the question, how much do I shop?, but that’s a question for another day :)), I saw another lady being rather nasty to the cashier because she did not pack the bag properly. I don’t know, it feels so sad when I see stuff like that. I do understand that people do get frustrated, but why take out our frustration on somebody else? The saddest part is the people who have to deal with such rude and nasty customers several times a day. I wonder how they must feel? Once I told a security guard, a simple Thank You, and had him tell me how some people are so rude to him. I am sure that he certainly appreciates the few kind words that must come to him.

Every time, I see such behaviour, I can’t help wonder what joy, what pleasure people get from treating others who can’t answer back, or who can’t retaliate badly.

Just a power trip, I suppose. Just a way of passing on what they might have been receiving from somewhere else.. Why else would one treat another person in this way?

Henna for the Broken-Hearted by Sharell Cook

I am an occasional silent reader at Sharell Cook’s blog, and when I found out that she had written a book, it came onto my wish list. A few weeks ago, I managed to lay my hands on the book.

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How far would you go to change your life?

Sharell Cook is 30 years old and living a privileged life in Melbourne’s wealthy suburbs. She has it all: the childhood-sweetheart husband, the high-powered job and plenty of cash to splash.

And it’s not destined to last. Sharell finds herself in a broken marriage, and everything she had taken for granted seems to have changed. Impulsively, she decides to take a break and go to India to do some volunteer work for a few months. Living in Calcutta, a life which was totally different from the time she traveled in India with her ex-husband as a tourist, Sharell grapples with life in India, the frustrations and joys, the unexpected and the normal. She also meets her future husband in India. Reading her book, you start to believe in destiny taking you where you belong.

The book is her memoir of her time in India, the way it changed her, and the way she now leads the urban life of a white Indian housewife. Her journey from what she was, to what she becomes, as she lives in a different culture, which she accepts so open-heartedly. Her transformation, as she calls it. Some of things which even, us, Indians would balk at, she calmly accepts and lives with them. It was fresh take, devoid of the stereotypes one would expect, and without any undue glorification of India either. She writes it as it is, and that in itself is very refreshing.

I loved reading her experiences in India, as she travels through India, lives in various parts, lives a life which is different at the same time, similar to locals. Washing clothes by hand, living through water shortages, temperamental landlords, nosy neighbours, part and parcel of middle class living in India, and accepting it all in a very matter of fact way. I absolutely love her attitude.

What really stands out is the risks she takes, probably because all that she considered familiar had changed after the breakdown of her marriage. The risks she takes in coming back to India, living with the man she would later marry, and her willingness to make the most of her situation, to accept what life has in store for her. It’s not something what most of us would find easy to do. And her attitude towards the changes in her life. Her open-hearted acceptance of the confusion that India can be, and her willingness to be a part of it all.

She literally taker us on her journey, through India, with the wonderful companionship she shares with her husband, and their adventures of various kinds. Living in different parts of India, until they reach the place they end up settling down in – Mumbai. Her husband’s family comes across as such wonderful people, accepting her a part of their family, and doing what it took to get her comfortable. The wonderful bond that she shares with them comes out loud and clear in the book.

If I had to describe the book in a few words, it would – honest and captivating. She keeps the pages turning, you want to know more, and you actually feel sad when it ends. A book I would definitely recommend.

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.