Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April Sunshine

April has always been a magical month for me ! It amazes me how the month manages to infuse me with a positive energy - the world seems a better place and suddenly problems which seemed insurmountable start feeling like small bumps in the road of life !

My friend came visiting last month and I realized how 'conversation starved' I was ! We spoke and spoke and spoke and I hardly let her have any sleep...It was 3 days of well-planned, royal fun ! She clicked pictures and uploaded them in facebook with some really catchy taglines !

The travel spree continued this month as well - we visited Mookambika on a quick 1 day trip. I realized once more how fragile my health was...Still, I enjoyed the trip...

My sister and nephew are back in town and this has not only added to the April sunshine, but has also made life much easier for me ! My son enjoys spending time with his cousin and apart from having to interfere occasionally to push aside the two warring parties, I get a lot of time to myself - the constant refrain of 'I don't have anyone to play with' is no longer there !!!

My vegetable garden is a new found passion - more about it in a separate post....

How can one talk about this month without mentioning the general elections ... It is one of the few occasions that I feel proud about India...Despite all its flaws, democracy is wonderful ! More personal fun was had, when the electoral officer wondered whether I was old enough to vote :P ...I went wearing a skirt and I was supporting my grandma...The guy refused to notice my bulging tummy and I was kicked to think that ppl still think I am half my age...My sis says the darkness in the booth aided my cause !

Today is Vishu - a new beginning for several agrarian communities across India...Here's wishing everyone prosperity !!!

Friday, March 07, 2014

Women's Day

Before we get on to that...I wonder where did February disappear? I know short month and all that...but it has just whizzed past...I got diamond earrings for Valentine's Day !!! That's the only memory of February that I have now...everything else seems a blur...
 
For the first time in my life, I am wondering what it has been to be a woman? Have I had any privileges because I was a woman? Were there discriminations? And most importantly, have I enjoyed being a woman for 34 odd years in this planet?
 
I am lucky enough to have parents who were proud to have 2 daughters. I realized how privileged I was when recently in an official training multiple senior people started their comments with "Fortunately, I don't have daughters..", "Fortunately, I don't have daughters or sisters..." and so on..I was brizzling, but didn't know how to react. (I always thought discrimination based on gender, atleast when it comes to your own kids was non-existent in an educated professional society - business families I could still understand..)Finally, a woman partner got up and said "Fortunately, we all have mothers ..."
 
Both my father and my mother gave us all the freedom to take our own decisions and gave us the best possible opportunities that their circumstances could offer...This has shaped my personality a lot and I have never felt inferior to any man ...
 
The workplace has not been very kind. I work in a self-proclaimed 'gender-neutral' firm and while there have been no official glass ceilings, the statistics of ladies in managerial roles clearly speak a different story. To my firm's credit, it is doing all it can to encourage and promote gender diversity, but the roles that society expect women to perform often clash with what firm expects from an employee...And that brings me to the famous Sheryl Sandberg quote 'Don't leave before you leave'...This is important, whether you are a man or a woman.
 
Coming to marriage, marrying a guy with a professional mom helped a lot...and that is why, even though I believe everyone makes their own choices, I personally believe in being a working mom - it not only gives your daughters the courage and inspiration to respect their dreams, but also teaches your sons to respect the dreams of their spouses ! My hubby has been supportive to a large extent, and does not believe in traditional role stereotypes - washing dishes, washing clothes, managing finances, washing bums, singing lullabies - all get done based on who is free at a given point in time ! If the skill is absent, we try to teach each other the skills required...(note to self: Learn Driving !) Ofcourse, societial conditioning does make him say at times "Look, how great a hubby I am !", but I have learnt to live with it :P.
 
Now the most important question - do I enjoy being a woman? Sadly, the honest answer is no...Despite having been privileged to face very less discrimination and to get a whole lot of support and encouragement, I still do not enjoy being a woman. The steep struggle to hold on to what most men take for granted is exhausting to say the least. Any job interview will have the mandatory questions "Are you ok travelling?, Who takes care of kids etc" None of which ever gets asked to a man ! If we have visitors and the food is not laid out the way it should be, no one will ask the guy "why are you not doing it properly?". If a guy wears shorts, no one has a problem...In each of these instances I have had to patiently explain (and sometimes not so patiently) my stance ! If I walk late into my apartment after an exhausting day of work, I get cold doubtful stares...A guy gets appreciated for how responsible he is...If I save up and build a house, I am ambitious...when the guy does it, he is smart and caring for his family ! The list is endless and the road is rough...who doesn't like smooth sailing !
 
And so, on this women's day I hope that instead of teaching our women self-defence and gifting them pepper sprays, let us teach our boys the virtues of being selfless, kind and loving...Let us teach them that tears are not a sign of weakness...Let us never tell them "Don't be a sissy"...Let us gift kitchen sets to our sons and business board games to our daughters and let us teach them to play together !

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Year That Will Be...

Almost 10% of the not-so-new year is already gone past, and I was still struggling with this post ! Honestly, for the first time, I have no idea what I want from this year. I do not know if I'd have the courage to handle the sea changes that are staring at me from every facet of life !
 
Ideally, I should be able to embrace change - all it requires is a change in perspective. I have realized in the last year how deeply ingrained certain beliefs are. I always believed that one should strive hard to give his/her best in any given circumstance. By extension, taking a break - even a small one was an excuse to indulge in laziness. (wrong belief, I know - can't seem to get over it !) This thought can however be quite counter-productive at times. I was dragging myself to work even in the middle of serious illness and I really don't have anything much to show for it - today, as I look back, I don't know why I did it ! I would never know whether taking a more prolonged break would have been helpful - my situation did not worsen because of my dog-headedness and maybe, if I had stayed home longer, the idle mind would have actually become the devil's workshop !
Note to self: Stop justifying non-sensical behaviour !
 
There are certain bridges that are quite dynamic and the best way to cross it is to improvise after you reach there. Hence one of the guiding principles of this year is 'Take each day as it comes'.
 
The last time I got a whole lot of time to myself was when I was 18. We had a six month break in between my 12th and Engineering. Like all 18 year olds, I squandered away that time. The only things I remember having done was get a driving license (which has been of no use in later life) and write prolific letters to my future husband (that atleast had some results :P) . This time around, I hope I can make better use of the time I will have ! And with that, I come to my new year wishes for all of you dear readers:
 
Wishing You Plenty of Time to Indulge in Things That You Love,
No time to fret or fear,
Happiness and Health in Abundance
And the presence of Loved Ones Always !

Friday, January 17, 2014

Cocktail Time Again

The result of the first cocktail has been a heady mix of unconditional love, compassion, random acts of affection, and humurous dialogues along with bull-headedness, a penchant for perfection and steely determinism.

Unlike what was originally thought, lady has contributed quite a bit. As hubby says 'He looks like me, but the internal wiring is all yours !"

We, as mixers have done it again ! Results of cocktail round 2 eagerly awaited !

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Australia – A-Z

Visiting Australia had been a long cherished dream, which finally came true this December. Here’s a list of thoughts and experiences around the vacation.
Australia: It is vast, and we only covered a tip of it – Sydney, Melbourne and Kangaroo Island.
Beaches: The beaches were beautiful and clean, and the water was icy cold (thanks to the close proximity of the Antartic), but somehow I always liked the beaches in Kerala the best. The wild passion of the sea in Kerala cannot be matched by the pristine calm of the international beaches. My son loved the beaches ! Bondi beach is just like Juhu beach with additional amenities – crowded with families.
Christmas Day – Australia is literally shut down on Christmas Day, so we spent the day in Kangaroo Islands. We had hired a self-drive car and we drove down to a national park – and saw sea lions basking in the sun. We also saw some amazing rock formations and clicked a whole lot of pictures. We had our kind of fun.
Eggs on Bread – That was the only breakfast option we had, and needless to say we got tired of it pretty soon.  People who have never had a crispy ghee dosa in their lifetimes is definitely missing a slice of heaven !
Food – I had great hopes of going to one of those high end fancy restaurants. But, we mostly ended up eating Malaysian and Chinese fare. In fact, the lack of spice was so terrible that we actually went in search of an Indian restaurant for a meal. (something we never do when we are abroad, as we love to experiment with food)
Goat Feeding – We visited a farm and had an opportunity to feed bottled cow’s milk to baby goats ! It was a wonderful experience. It was their first feed of the day – they were very hungry and were clamoring for our bottles.  At some basic level all kids are alike – regardless of the species.
Harbour Bridge – We saw the mighty harbor bridge. Climbing the bridge is a tourist must-do. We didn’t attempt it this time, but next time around, it is on my to do list. Did you know that it is painted grey because that is the only paint that is easily available in such large quantities – you need 80000 litres of paint to do it.
Incredible India – They were ads of Incredible India all around the Australian airports and I felt happy seeing them – some things cannot be explained.
Kangaroo Islands – We spent 2 days there and it was fun. We fed Kangaroos, watched sea lions and cuddled with a Koala. We also played with lizards and snakes. However, if you want to enjoy an island at one fifth the cost, without compromising on the fun – visit Langawi in Malaysia.
Melbourne – The bigger part of our trip was spent at Melbourne. We stayed at a family room (with an ensuite bathroom and a bunk bed) in United Backpackers. I would highly recommend the place to anyone who wants a decent acco in Melbourne without spending a fortune for it. It was centrally located and I really liked the city. My son was thrilled to be able to sleep on a bunk bed. I am thinking of buying one for the house !
New Year’s Eve: We skipped the Sydney fireworks and decided to stay on in Melbourne for New Year’s Eve. I had expected to go out for dinner at some fancy place and even had bought a dress for the occasion. The son had other plans, though. He promptly fell asleep after the 9:30 fireworks (for kids and family) and I didn’t want to have fun at the expense of his discomfort. So, we ended up celebrating New Year’s Eve in the hotel room eating leftovers from lunch. Surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed. Sometimes, it is the company that matters. Thanks, hubby dear for making New Year’s Eve special in your own way.
Opera House: This was the high point of the visit for me. We were travelling to the Opera House by ferry and as the Opera House loomed in front of me I felt an unexpected sense of joy and contentment. Like most people, the image of Australia in my mind was that of the Sydney Opera House and when I actually saw it in front of my eyes, I once again felt, ‘Yes, dreams do come true !’. We took a guided tour inside and it was quite informative. However, I missed catching a performance inside – hopefully next time.
People: The people of Australia, deserve special mention. Before I travelled, there was a lot of skepticism about how they would treat Indians etc. My experience was quite amazing, though. They are one of the most friendly and helpful people I have come across.
Sydney: I stayed in Mosmon with family friends and had only 2-3 days in the city. I would visit again and see it in more detail for sure.
Train Ride: We took the Puffing Billy ride – a steam engine train which moves through a very scenic location. My son and the kid in me enjoyed the train ride thoroughly. Well worth doing it once. It has been kept active mostly by volunteers  and my heart went out to them with a big ‘Thank You’.
Zoo – We visited the Taronga Zoo for one full day – primarily for Siddhu. But, he enjoyed the stroller ride more than the animals, and it was a highly commercialized place. They were charging a hefty entrance fees and then there were additional charges for getting pictures done with the animals – we could do that for free in Kangaroo Islands. The shows were also nothing spectacular, and both hubby and self felt that if you wanna enjoy animals up close and personal, the Singapore Zoo is any day a better bet.
 

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Year That Was

2013 - was a year I'd rather delete from my memory. Life was fine till April, but then it was mostly a downward spiral. We went to Hongkong for a vacation in May and that was the best (and probably the only) memory that I will carry forward with me. It was picture perfect in all sense !  
 
I shifted my family back to my home town. This meant that I was travelling every week, missing my son and playing an increasingly difficult game of trying to perform a good role at both work and home. It was one of those situations, where you are forced to do something knowing fully well that your life will change irrevocably for the worse, but still you end up doing it. All those self-help gurus who say 'you always have a choice' don't realise that sometimes the choice is between the devil and the deep sea. And you jump into the deep sea, hoping that you will find the inner strength to swim across - but, practically, most often than not, it never works that way. Maybe, selling my soul to the devil would have been easier !
 
My patience with people trying to infringe on my freedom has reduced further and today, I have learnt the art of telling people to 'F off' if they cross limits.
 
I also had my brush with serious illness during the year and I knew depths of pain I had never experienced before ! I experimented briefly with spirituality and learnt that people are generally very uncomfortable with the slightest form of deviant behaviour.
 
Fleetingly happy moments were had around the birthdays of loved ones which were all celebrated in style. My son is growing up to be a sensitive and loving child - with a cheeky sense of humour that I enjoy.
 
I am looking forward to my vacation in Australia next week....I will be posting my New Year post after I come back...await more news !

Monday, December 09, 2013

Meeting Cousins

My cousins from my maternal side have arrived for vacation with their babies. I surprised myself with how excited I was at the prospect of meeting them. The initial plan was for me to meet them in their native place. However, an impending vacation meant that it was difficult for hubby to take further leave.

Both their in-laws are in the city where I work and I decided to meet them there, instead.  I wasn't very sure how comfortable I would be to meet them there, (especially without my hubby, who is usually the conversation starter) but I decided to do it nevertheless. Turns out, my fears were unnecessary. I had a great time meeting both cousins, catching up with news about our lives, sharing worries about parents getting old, cribbing about managing work and kids - turns out most problems are universal. We do the best we can, knowing fully well how inadequate that 'best' often is...

I was happy that I got fed sumptuous meals in both places - food always affects my moods !

As the year is slowly winding to a close, I am eagerly looking forward to 2014. I thought 2013 will change my life. Well, it did change quite a bit. The surprise though is that 2014 is gonna come with even bigger changes - changes I never foresaw !

The introspection post will soon arrive.