Harper tagged me to do a post on seven things about myself - some random, some weird say the rules. I love doing memes but hardly ever get tagged so I’d rather not let this one pass. Since this is a personal blog,it’s hard to think of something about myself that I’ve not already blogged about over the past 5 years.
So I’m just going to find a relevant post wherever possible…
- I am SCARED of cockroaches.
- I can actually count the number of times when I haven’t fallen off a train while trying to board or get off.
- People find it tough to watch a movie with me so much so that my brother has sworn never to do it again (Interruptions and thousands of questions guaranteed!) Matrix gets the distinction of being interrupted the most.
- I met my husband in a hospital when he broke his arms, legs, and nearly fractured his skull - yea, he’s the adventurous type. If there’s one thing I would love to learn, it has to be skating.
- I loved to study but hated school and college. Went to 11 schools and 2 colleges.
- I suck at social networking.
- I can’t sleep alone at home during nights …. tend to be awake watching out for imaginary burglars. Known to sleep under the bed for protection. Weird?
Now I have to tag seven people to pass on the meme… Here, you go..
1. Mridu Khullar - a freelance writer I’m in awe of for her writing.
2. Moxie - a friend and former colleague I once went ice skating with and fell hard on my **
3. Poppins’ Mom - a mommy blogger with funny tales of older Poppin and the not-yet-naughty sweetpea
4. Chaos - college mate
..more to come.
The rules of this ‘game’ for those that I have tagged:
Link your original tagger(s), and list these rules on your blog.
Share seven facts about yourself in the post - some random, some weird.
Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blogs and/or Twitter
…that’s my goal for 2009. Losing mummy tummy, shedding that extra flab with regular exercise, spending quality time with family are resolutions which are passe now for me. Anyway, who cared about calories burnt after the first fortnight of the New Year…breaking resolutions was as much in vogue as having a wish list ready before the year began.
When careers change and one transitions from a full-time corporate job to freelancing, priorities re-align as do goals. For the first time in all these years, last year I targeted a few things (if only as a mental note) I wished to achieve before the year ended. My goals for 2008 were:
1. Get published in a magazine
2. Learn how to drive a car
3. Self-sponsor a trip to Bahrain
At the end of the year, I could cross off items 1 and 2. With 4 pieces published in a travel magazine, 3 in a national daily, 70 research articles for a industrial info website, and a few more copy-writing work, it was a good start to my first year of freelance writing. The sponsor part of item 3 was met though the trip didn’t materialize for whatever reasons.
Here I am, in 2009, writing down where I would like to see myself at the end of the year. One lesson learnt from past experience is that it doesn’t help to have a generalized goal. Having a target defined quantitatively and qualitatively makes assessment all the more easy.
Back after the holiday break and don’t feel like getting back to work? Is that why you are blog surfing? Don’t worry, it’s an all too-familiar feeling albeit until a few years ago; I don’t wake upto alarm clocks anymore.
So while you’re here, I might as well narrate an incident that happened two days back at the parlour. And I promise that would be not as boring as the title of this post is. Parlour - yes, the same place where newly married husbands don’t mind driving their wives to while they catch a movie in the multiplex and still have enough time before the beautified wife emerges out; with time, the chauffeuring comes down as the husband prefers lounging on the couch on Saturdays to catch a Formula 1 race or basketball game than you know what! My trips were always far and few in a year and never lasted more than 15 minutes. After all, how long does it take to pluck a few hairs off one’s eyebrows, right? I’m glad LG’s entry has not affected that part of my life yet and I still sneak in a quarterly trip for 15 minutes. The much-needed haircuts are an annual affair, perfectly timed so that mom doesn’t see the tresses cut too short and the husband doesn’t find it too long.
One of the days this week, yours truly paid the monthly visit (frequency increases as child grows) to the same parlor of which she has been a regular customer. Choosing one requires strategic thinking in many ways - one that is no more than 1 Km far from home so that you can dash back, one that is affordable, clean and finally, one where I witness no attitude. This newly opened place was close to home and very near to where I shop for groceries, so it worked fine for me until this week’s visit. For starters, the lady at the reception was rude from the moment I entered. And then what perhaps irked me the most was guys dashing in and out of the room for no reason. Hey, this is a woman’s parlor, if you plan to have guys inside then you’re going to lose people like me. There were guys who were chatting up the girls while they were at work - threading, waxing etc. And they had no good reason to be there. Conservative you may say, but I found it odd for a well-kept and much-advertised place such as this one. Initially, I had planned a haircut but canceled on grounds of an uncomfortable environment. The lady at the reception had stepped away for a chit-chat with another dude inside a cabin while I waited to pay and leave. She merely raised her eyebrows when I told her the reason for canceling my haircut as if I was some alien conservative from a nearby village. Whatever! She randomly chose to increase the price by 10% and refused to give a bill or an explanation. Merely, said they had started collecting taxes. Fair enough, I was aware of it as they did the last time too. Instead of Rs.20 it was Rs.22. This time around, she wanted Rs.28 without a bill. Rs. 6 is not a big deal to have an argument but anything unethical even if it is 1 Re. does warrant an explanation. She just shrugged, went in, and sent the change through a helper after 5 minutes when I lost my patience. Those 10 seconds of non-spoken conversation and actions were enough to lose a loyal customer.
For an upcoming place like this, it is not the price of service you are offering to a customer that matters, it is the amount of good name you garner. Heard of word-of-mouth marketing, anyone? This place spends a substantial of money on marketing through paper ads regularly. And this happens all the time even at the biggest retail stores that spends thousands of rupees on advertising and marketing. So now I’m on an hunt for another parlor and that’s giving me sleepless nights. Seriously, no kidding
If you reached this far, I admire your patience. Now, get back to work.
Distance of time and place generally cure what they seem to aggravate; and taking leave of our friends resembles taking leave of the world, of which it has been said, that it is not death, but dying, which is terrible. ~Henry Fielding
Twelve days ago, on Dec. 12, my grandfather lost his battle to life after a prolonged period of misdiagnosed illnesses - from Alzheimer’s two years ago to brain tumor and more recently, cancer. He was 91. In a strange way, I was more relieved as he breathed his last late night on Dec. 12 with his beloved ones by his side, for he had suffered a great deal these past four months. Dad who was all set to travel that night but postponed his plans by a fortnight perhaps sensing the end was close.
The first time I got to know that thatha didn’t have long to live was in August this year. I cried miserably that day. At 90, he went about doing his daily activities meticulously getting up at 5:30 a.m. followed by a quick shower, visit to the temple, his prayers, reading newspapers etc..I find it hard to digest that until two years back, he would write letters to the editor regularly to magazines, solve crosswords, and attempt puzzles. Considering he had nearly lost his eye sight after multiple cataract operations - this was an achievement in itself speaking volumes of his perseverance.
My fond memories with him date back to the late 80’s and early 90’s when we three grand-kids would surround him after dinner by the veranda and he would narrate ghost stories with passion - not made up ones, these were real is what he had told us then. He had lived for a few years in the midst of a huge farm earning his livelihood from the family’s agriculture business. Stories of a lady clad in white sari walking through rooms after 6 p.m. was a common sight that scared the hell out of my granny, he would say. And then as years passed by, he often narrated about his travels across Tamil Nadu with the then DIG; grandpa was with the police force in an administrative capacity until he retired in the mid-1970’s.
A self-made man - he remains an inspiration for me to this day on living a simple life. He had worked hard to get his children educated through school and college, construct a house, and more importantly bring dinner to the table with a meager salary. Sometimes, I’m told it called for cycling over 30 Kms to get a bag of rice from the village to city that could feed the family of four. I shudder at the thought now that he was over 75 when he filled air in our cycles as we got ready for school every morning; I studied at my grandparents’ for a couple of years. Some other fond memories I have of him was his passion for gardening. Coming from an agricultural family, he tended to his garden in the city house himself - the drumstick tree on an average bore about 75-100 every day in season, sometimes even 200. He had a knack for climbing the coconut tree to pluck the tender coconuts and there was something magical about the papayas that grew in the garden.
His command over the English language was one to admire. Call it the fruits of the Colonial rule or whatever but I admit I would still have to refer to the dictionary if he were to write a letter. Unfortunately, in recent years most of his letters were addressed to the Treasury Department relating to his pending pension. The reticence of the state government didn’t deter him from trying what he believed he deserved. And that perhaps remained his regret till last day for he felt he never got his due. Unbiased, very affectionate towards his family, and totally detached towards materialism is how I would remember him forever. No favorite food, and a white dhoti and shirt was all he needed for an existence…never asked for more! I wonder what it would take to get those virtues.
His last few months were the most painful as cancer spread through the body and he writhed in pain, subsequently slipping into a partial coma and reduced to a vegetable state with absolutely no food intake towards the end. (The steroids gave him a violent behavior for a brief period.) In the last month or so, he was reduced to a skeletal frame and it was very disheartening to see a man of such physical might and mental strength getting so helpless. Thatha - undoubtedly, you will always remain my favorite grandparent.
A great soul like you is no more amongst us. I hope you find peace on the other side.
The moon took refuge under a thick cover of clouds tonight but that didn’t deter my spirits; standing in the cramped utility space, I stuck my neck out in an awkward position with LG over my shoulder to get a glimpse of the semi-circle, pristine white body up there. Post-dinner it has become an unsaid tradition of taking a walk to see the moon with LG on the stroller so much so that our neighbors have come to acknowledge it as our “moon-light walk”. With the temperatures dipping slightly for winter, there’s a chill in the air; our night walks have gradually come down as a precautionary measure for I don’t want LG to be sick child on his own birthday- which is just a week away.
Winter is not significant enough to be called as a season on its own in Bangalore; alright mercury levels dip a bit and the sun sets early and rises late but other than that it’s all normal. But December brings with it a depressing feeling; it’s quiet, dark, cold, and eerily silent. I don’t know if it’s just me but I can’t wait for the New Year to set in and get over with the last month of the year.
There was one winter that I loved. Thinking about that December gives me gooseflesh - the winter in Chicago, for days I waited to see the first snow, to feel it in my palms, to see it covering the colorful shrubs lining up the streets of Magnificent Mile, to see the lake freeze, to be dressed in layers of clothing and yet step out cheerfully every morning, to see the fireworks light up the Chicago night sky every Wednesday and Saturday, to go ice skating and fall over and over again and still not give up - everything about that winter seemed perfect. I’d never seen or felt snow before so it was a novel experience. The first night when it snowed, I frantically called up all the people I knew who were awake and rushed down onto the streets to feel snow and watch the kids (very few that lived Downtown) make a snowman.
This winter is quiet, very quiet indeed. I have tons of work to complete before the 25th and the weather isn’t making it any easier. The silence is haunting, so I’ve finally taken to listening to loud music over and over again on youtube while working. It’s addictive and very little work gets done. Let’s not talk about taste, for now- damn promos and watching TV!
If you are wondering how the three title words are related, then don’t worry because there’s no mystery in there; all I could think of at this time of the day were single unrelated words. It’s Friday night and I would have loved to gorge on a cheese Pizza topped with jalapenos, black olives, mushrooms, corn, and the other regulars. The thought of a newly opened pizza outlet about 250 meters from where I live doesn’t help much. Pune and Bangalore are contrasts in every aspect of the daily life. I waited a good seven months before I could feast on a Pizza - one of my favorite foods - in Pune because I was pregnant with LG and couldn’t make it to the city. Can you believe it meant an hour’s drive to visit the nearest Domino’s or Pizza Hut and home delivery was virtually unheard of until about six months back? In Bangalore, there are two outlets within half a kilometer.
Sleep. Now food and sleep are two things I value very much in life; I can’t decide which one comes first but today I will go with sleep. Or maybe food on second thoughts. I can describe to the minutest detail the layout of our bedroom, the speck of dust adorning the fan blades, and the globe shape formed by orange hues from the night lamp’s reflection; no big deal if you spend hours night after night staring into these objects, right? For years, I went to bed to 10:00 p.m. and woke up by 6:30 p.m. - yea, I was one of those humans that required a minimum of 8 hours sleep to be sane the next morning. It all changed once Li’l General came into our lives. To match his night-time milk schedule, my bedtime shifted by an hour. Of late, with work keeping me up late nights, the mind is too alert by the time I land in bed while the body craves for some good sleep. I’ve been struggling to get a balance between the two. Committing to more work this month isn’t helping either. So, I guess blogging will be a bit slow until I finish my projects before Santa arrives. Yes, the Santa Claus countdown has begun. V plans to visit us for a few days later this month. Yay! For now, I’m totally sleep-deprived and “sleep” tops my wish list for next year (I have the right to change it tomorrow, if I get a good night’s sleep today ). Talking of wish lists, do you have one or believe in one?
“I don’t know”, was my reflex response for years when faced with an uncomfortable question or one that required any thinking. I realized this was a safe answer that didn’t encourage a conversation, offered a temporary relief from making a life-binding decision, and one that led to no confrontation or further discussion on controversial issues. Issues, not the kind to decide if Rangarajan will a better successor to PC, but the ones closer home that we are familiar with like “Should I have my delivery here or at my mom’s?” or “Do I keep my job or quit?” or “Where do we spend Diwali - your parents’ or mine?”; the solutions to these which most often are elusive are far more consequential than Rangarajan taking over the reins of the already battered economy.
And then, it all changed one day. After that fateful wedding in 2002. For a few more years, I hung on tightly to the “I don’t know” rule. It didn’t take long for V to see through my scheming. Over the years, he has prodded me in his very outspoken way to find answers to the unknown; he has encouraged me to openly admit when I DO know the hard answers. To his credit, I rarely take solace in the unknown.
A friend who has just had her second baby while the first one is just out of the toddler years asked me, “How do I know what I want to do?” The state of managing two young children needs no elaborate description. The frustration for a career woman to be holed up inside a home changing diapers, making baby food, taking them for a walk on a stroller and putting up with tantrums is something that has to be seen; often it takes no more than 5 minutes for them to breakdown on a comforting shoulder. Domesticity is not bliss in these moments. To work or not to work seems like a life-altering decision something that you are bound for life. One’s ability to see past the you two years of a child’s initial years of dependence on a parent is totally blinded. This friend is torn between the parental guilt of not being able to raise her kids on her own and going back to work full-time. I asked her a few questions and predictably answers to most were a shrug or an “I don’t know.”
Do you know what you want to do? I have been faced with this numerous times in my life. Not once did I know what I really wanted to do. However, I always knew what I didn’t want to do and that just made it easier. She asked me how I got to doing what I do right now. It wasn’t easy. I did a few odd things over the last two years before I started enjoying writing. For instance, it was SEO consulting for the two months after I quit working at Cognizant and before delivering my son Li’l General. When I didn’t have enough time to market my SEO skills, I turned to freelance coding for a while. Finally, I settled on stock trading that I still continue to do. Stock trading for a 5% monthly return on investment doesn’t demand 8 hours a day. With a few more hours to spare, I took up freelance writing. As I look back, it was my need to be satisfied monetarily and do something creative with the option of blowing it into a full fledged career later on.
There’s nothing like a dream job. If you love the work you do in the field you are passionate about, in an environment that’s great to be in with money enough to fill your coffers, then count yourself lucky. Else, take this career advice - keep passion and the job that pays you enough separate.
No decision is binding for life. Understand your priorities : passion or money? Then use the elimination rule. Sooner than later, you’ll know what it is you want to do.
“Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.” - William Arthur Ward
I’ve made peace with myself, finally. Criticism and comparison has plagued me all my life. My best critics were at home: my family - brother in particular. My parents were very sparse in their words when it came to appreciation for fear of letting success get to my head, as I understand their intentions better now. But in their own subtle ways they encouraged us by rewarding with simple gifts that I wish I had treasured. They were more attached to the trophies we won as kids - my mom going to the extent of polishing those brass and bronze statues every year. Sometimes it amazes me as to how these objects have made through our years of moving across cities and countries so much so that the hand-written note on the bottom of every prize citing the year and the name of competition is still intact. My mother would get me an audio cassette of the latest Hindi releases of my choice every time I stood first in class. I recall getting Aashiqui and Dil cassettes in the consecutive months. My brother always reaped the benefits of my hard work, in a way So mom would be never like, “Great or Good job.” but more of the sort, “You’ve got to aim for 100 in the next term or finish this year with an overall first”. The bar was always raised higher pushing me to achieve the next best. In a way, it motivated me to take challenges I would never have dreamed of.
My dad of all, has been very proud of me all along. He has never missed an awards function in which I was due to receive a prize. The most vivid one in my memory is that of the Independence Day in 5th grade when I received 5 prizes. It was raining cats and dogs and the school had erected a make-shift tent under which hundred odd students and parents had assembled. Dad kept scuttling back and forth to receive the prizes on my behalf as a bunch of we students were stranded at the other end of the school getting ready for a skit (which was eventually canceled) unable to reach the venue due to the downpour. He counts that among one of his proudest moments. Appreciative of kids in front of others while absolute silence and no acknowledgement to us has been his stand all these years until recently. While mom maintains a dignified silence talking absolutely nothing about her kids to others, which I consider cool because it takes a lot to be that way. With LG around, I know what it takes to keep mum about your child.
Constructive criticism is good. It’s finding fault for every action that can get to one’s nerves - something I’ve never been subjected to. The greatest compliment in all these years that nearly moved me to tears came recently. It was from Dad a few weeks ago when he said he was proud of what I did now. This is HUGE. Encouraged by the words, I read the mail over and over again pinching myself to believe it wasn’t a dream. It was for REAL. I love what I do now, to write. Nothing has made him more happier than to see my name in print. I’ve reached the stage where I don’t look for validation of everything I do. Writing is a path of self-discovery for me; it’s not a full-fledged career yet because the “C” factor is missing. Confidence of making a living from writing will come once I start f believing in the written word and devote more time than the current 2-hours-a-day.
Do you have a critic at home?
What happens when you see a movie three times every day for 9 months without any break? To begin with, you remember every dialogue, lyrics of all the songs, every set, every sequence, every costume like the back of your hand. There is another extreme possibility which is either you love the movie very much (with a lot of time to sit on your a**) or you hate the sight of even its poster and swear never to see it again during this lifetime. I’ll go with the ‘loving’ part for “Jab We Met” because I must be totally crazy to see it at 10:40 p.m. on a Sunday night on TV too when I just saw it on DVD a few hours earlier over dinner.
We have 2 copies in DVDs of the movie JWM at home. The first one wore out because of playing repeatedly. After all, no DVD is designed to be viewed like a five hundred times or more, right? I’m afraid the second one has also begun to show signs of wear and tear and might need a quick replacement. Navratri shopping can wait, a new copy of JWM takes a higher priority. Just kidding..no more DVDs of JWM.
So, how did this obsession began? It started off as an accident; back in January when LG was going through a very tough fussy-eating phase the only distraction that made him eat was the song “Mauji hi Mauja”. It played on different chanells through the day that he grew fond of the song and gyrated to it while having his food. When the frequency of the number decreased on TV, I got a DVD of the movie for Rs.30 (thank you Moser Baer!). Initially he finished his dinner by the time “Mauja hi Mauja” and “Nagada, Nagada” numbers finished playing. When he grew bored of it, it moved on to the other songs and with time different parts of the movie (minus the swearing or objectionable scenes). Soon we were seeing a good chunk of the movie (about 30 minutes in all) through the day which was the only TV viewing allowed. I know it’s bad parenting..very bad rather. But let’s just forget that for a while and keep in mind kids outgrow nursery rhymes too. Anyways this post is about the movie and not about my parenting ways, remember?
There’s something so refreshing about this movie that I think no review of it so far has done enough justice. The only other movie before this one that I claim to have seen more than once is “Dil Hai Ki Mantha Nahin“. Ironically, both the movies have similar story lines of boy-meets-girl-in-journey, falls in love with a happily-lived-ever-after ending. JWM exudes a positive energy every time you watch it; there’s so much enthusiasm to live life on one’s terms, a feel-good romance and a story freshly dealt like never before in recent times that it puts all the romantic movies to shame. It has raised the bar for Hindi movies with its realistic, no-hype approach that doesn’t go over-the-top in costumes or make-up making you connect with the characters. I remember the dialogue of almost every scene and yet I see it with the same anticipation as a first-time viewer every time I see the movie. This is one movie when you wouldn’t need a DVD remote after playing for there’s no need to skip any section or song. Imtiaz Ali must have done a fabulous job for viewers to consider Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur among their favorite actors especially when the latter was considered more of a female actor than male because of his looks and roles in earlier movies such as Dil Maange More . The chemistry between the lead pair couldn’t have been better and I can’t believe myself to be writing about a movie at this time of the night!
Some say it’s getting a perspective on life; some call it navigating through the mid-life crisis. These fancy terms fly past my head. Not knowing what you want is scary. And, if you don’t know what you don’t want either, then one needs help. So I talked things through with my shrink and following is a transcript of the conversation.
My Shrink (MS): Hello
MS: How was your day?
Me: the usual..
Me: Umm..the mundane stuff
MS: Do you miss work?
Me: I don’t know
MS: Do you want to go back to work?
Me: I don’t know
MS: “I don’t know” your favorite words?
Me: Umm…I don’t know
MS: You don’t know?
MS: Did you like working before?
MS: A lot?
Me: Sometimes. Sometimes, not so much.
MS: What part did you like?
Me: The money was good.
MS: So, it’s the money?
MS: Would you consider going again for money?
MS: What’s stopping you?
Me: It’s my son.
MS: What about your son?
Me: Lack of support system. Don’t trust the company of nannies.
MS: If you find a reliable person, will you be able to give up part of your duties such as feeding him, bathing him etc. to someone else?
MS: Do you earn anything at all now?
Me: Yes. A fraction of my earlier income.
MS: Do you love what you do now?
MS: Which is?
Me: Freelance writing.
MS: More than what you have done all your corporate life?
Me: Sometimes, yes. I miss the company of other people at times.
MS: Have you considered part-time?
Me: Yes, haven’t found a suitable employer.
Sounds like you are doing great now. All you need is a little reassurance to focus more of your time and energy on what you love to do, and the money will automatically come. Get out often and get a life and you’ll sail through this mid-life crisis.
No prizes for guessing who the shrink is. No appointments required. Convenient and Economical. Some benefits of being married!