thewilltoholdon

As I breathe and think and dream


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‘Meat’-ing Expectations

I have always been a non-vegetarian all my life. I like meat (both lean and red), seafood and the works. Being a Hindu, I should probably not be eating beef on religious grounds. But I have never really been a conformist and while due to health reasons I reach for lean meats most of the time, I love to dig into my occasional meatball sub and lasagna. My husband, on the other hand, comes from a very traditional and conservative Indian family. And they are ALL vegetarians. And very strict vegetarians at that. The rules of their household are – No meat. No fish. No eggs. Not even garlic for a number of his family members. Now for those who do not know much about Indian dietary rules, please do not ask me why garlic is clubbed with the rest of the non veg brigade. It just is.
When my husband moved to Australia in his early twenties, he was a vegetarian just like the rest of his family and he planned on staying that way. However he found it difficult as there were not too vegetarian options available at the time. There was just one burger joint that offered a decent vegetarian burger and he had that so many times that he soon became sick of it. He tried cooking at home. However that was not possible everyday with his study and part time job schedule. Besides his flat mate and best friend was a non vegetarian who loved cooking biryanis and chicken curries. So this meant that my husband had to cook vegetarian meals just for himself. It all became too much. His well-meaning flat mate suggested that he should ‘try’ eating chicken as it would make life a lot easier for him. My husband agreed and they went to a KFC joint where my husband had his first original recipe fried chicken. And he loved it. He took to eating chicken as the proverbial duck takes to water. From then on life in Australia was a lot easier for him and by the time I met him, he could cook a mean chicken curry himself. With me urging him on, he started liking lamb and goat too. He could not develop a liking for seafood as the ‘fishy’ smell was too much for him, he said. Also he did not like beef or pork. Still in our household, we had reached a happy compromise. Say, if we ordered pizza, it would many times be half and half – pepperoni on my half and chicken on his.
So all is well in our tiny world. The only problem we now face is that my husband’s family has no idea that he is no longer a vegetarian. My husband has never really ‘come out’ in front of them in this aspect. When we got married, my in-laws knew that I was a non-vegetarian but they assumed that I would mend my evil ways and embrace vegetarianism. Now my husband might have had something to do with them thinking on such lines, as in a bid to get me ‘accepted’ into his family as soon as possible, he probably took a few liberties with the truth. Since we live half a world away, we have never really been caught out till now. I just need to remember while on our weekly telephone conversations with my hubby’s family, that if someone asks me what’s for dinner, I need to quickly substitute words like chicken or lamb with mushroom or cottage cheese.
When we visit my in-laws in India, we of course have to live like vegetarians for the duration. This can be a little bit of a bummer because we expats always crave food from back home while abroad and it does not seem fair to be missing out on all the yummy non vegetarian options available when in your home country. I do put my foot down at times and insist on sneaking out of home and eating at a non-vegetarian restaurant. Like when in Hyderabad, I wanted to taste the incredible biryani the city is famous for and in order to escape from my sister-in-laws house, we had to cook up a false story of having to meet up with a friend for lunch.
Of course, things will be much more difficult when some of my in laws come to visit us in Australia. I guess we will have to empty the freezer and the pantry of anything vaguely resembling meat or fish. And probably get some new cookware for cooking vegetarian food as my in-laws are known to have noses like police sniffer dogs. That is the reason they avoid eating at restaurants which serve both vegetarian and non-vegetarian fare.
However the thing that is threatening to blow our vegetarian cover is not the imminent arrival of my in-laws from India – it is my toddler. My daughter loves her chicken and fish (“chick-chick” and “fishie” in her speak). And I can just imagine that day not very far away when she will blurt out on the phone or video chat that she had tandoori chicken for lunch. I imagine my mother-in-law will probably faint on the other side then! However that is not the worst that can happen. A friend who has a similar situation with her in-laws, tell me that her 4 year old has sensed that his mom and dad do not want non-vegetarian stories to leak out to his grandparents. Conniving devil that he is, he now routinely blackmails his parents and tells them – If you do not give me such-and-such, I will go and tell grandma that you made roast lamb for dinner. Gosh! These kids! I guess I now have a few months at most to start saving in order to meet future ransom demands. Or to get my husband to confess to his family about being a meat eater (and that will probably lead to my being branded the ‘evil wife’ who lead her pious husband astray). Or to really switch to vegetarianism.


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Of Learning Curves

I have been a mom for nineteen months now (incredible!). I have survived the difficult first year – the sleepless nights, being used as a milk production unit, the dirty diapers, the tonnes of laundry. I would like to believe that these past nineteen months have toughened me up so much that I can take most things in my stride now (namely the meltdown in the supermarket aisle, the tantrums in the car, the puke on the best dress (hers and mine) on the way to the party, etc). But no – that was me being self delusional. In all honesty, I am still pretty clueless. However I am not as clueless as I was three, six or nine months ago and compared to my naive self nineteen months ago, I am a venerable Yoda now.
Each day I am learning something new as a mom. Well, that is good. I am not scared of learning. It is the teaching bit that gives me the heebie-jeebies. I am worried about the heaps of things that I will need to teach my daughter in the days and months to come. They are (in no particular order) –
1. How to brush her teeth (she screams bloody murder as soon as her toothbrush comes within a meter of her mouth).
2. How to chew her food properly before swallowing (Put in mouth-chew-chew-no, no! don’t spit out- swallow!)
3. How to use the loo in an adult fashion (Ooh, the all-important potty training!)
4. How to dress herself (yes, sweetheart, a hat goes on your head because… it just does!)
5. How to spell her name (why did I not name her Eve or Liv or Skye?!!)
6. How not to bite/scratch/push others – and yet not be a doormat
7. How to eat broccoli and spinach without complaining
8. How to fix breakfast for herself to give mummy and daddy a break on weekends
9. How to share her things with others (lovely sentiment – though as with most things in life, easier said than done)
10. How tie her shoe laces
11. How to color inside the lines (and not on the wall or… gasp.. the white couch!)
12. How to climb down the stairs (she can manage the climb up pretty well but loses nerve while trying to get back down)
13. How not to dig her nose in public
14. How to look this way and that before crossing the street
15. How to ride a scooter…. a tricycle… a bike
And … the list goes on and on. Now I am not a very good or patient teacher. And if truth be told, I myself struggle to remember to do some of the things on the list. So the idea of having to re-iterate these things a million time each to an independent and rebellious toddler seems like an uphill task. Why can’t kids come pre-programmed with the basics?


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Goodbye, Ambition! It Was Nice Knowing You

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I have been missing in action for a little while (but I swear I haven’t forgotten you!). It is just that I have been busy.  Verrry busy. Of course the lazy pace of work that I had been fortunate enough to experience for past couple of months was bound to change at some time. In our line of work it is practically unheard of not to feel the heat of deadlines, technical bugs, presentations and audits. Sooner or later (if not all the time!) one falls prey to these and other horrors – namely terrible managers who can never be pleased, snooty partners who think they can walk on water, miniscule or non existant hikes and bonuses,  clients who think they can be as irrational as they want just because they are paying an arm and a leg for our services (Ummm… well … maybe they have a point .. but hey, come on, people,  you should know better than to fall for the whole sales pitch that ‘We can build/mend/deliver anything and everything!’ )

There was a time when I used to love all this (barring the bad hikes of course!). Working against the clock , delivering a solution that, though it was not a answer to the world’s fuel crisis or a cure for cancer, still meant a lot to the client. Wracking my brains to come up with way around that irrtating software glitch.  Feeingl the heady rush of adrenaline after proving a point in intense caffeine fuelled meetings. Each morning I would match my pace to that of the others dressed in suits armed with lattes and iPads and get that heady feeling that ‘I too am doing something important in this place.’ And yes, I loved the feeling that I was coming up in the world just the way I had wanted to and dreamt of when I had been a nerdy teenager swotting for exams that would get me into the college of my choice and then later ambtiously applying for jobs, not only hoping that the prospective employers valued enthusiasm more than experience, but also somehow they chose me out of the hundreds of similar applicants.

However lately the amount of joy that I have been deriving from work has diminished. Actually that statement is not strictly true. Payday still feels wonderful and there is nothing to complain about in my professional life, It is just that the overall joy I derive from work has been eclipsed by the greater joys of family. Perhaps I am getting mellow in my old age but really the feeling of family is the best. Family life is messy, noisy, warm, chaotic and cosy. I cannot help but compare my life as it is now to the one I had just a couple of years back in London. I had a good job there but no family (at least none nearby).  I had lots of good friends and my after work hours would be spent in fun activities. Yet I would look at the couples walking hand-in-hand at a tube stations wistfully. Festive seasons would feel awful and no amount of retail therapy would help. 

Now a little more than eighteen months later, I have a husband and a daughter and I have moved halfway across the world to settle in sunny Australia. My life has changed so much that at times I feel like pinching myself for reassurance that this is indeed real. At the risk of sounding terribly mushy, being married to the one you love is incredible. I still feel the thrill at the end of each day when I am heading back home that K is waiting for me at the end of the commute. Well, of course we fight. However we agree much more than we disagree. Text each other “I love you’s” many more times than we end up not talking to each other. And we have the greatest fun together even while doing mundane things like cooking and grocery shopping.

Maybe because of my career focus in my twenties, I neevr felt that I was never a particularly maternal female. Research says that 70% of women feel an outpouring of love for their babies as soon they are born (there are  a lot of supporting medical facts about hormones that back that theory). Well I belong to the other 30% of the population who are confounded and not just a little scared of the tiny screaming creature who suddenly comes into their life.  It took me a while to come to grips with motherhood. My goal oriented mindset where doing X guaranteed a result Y did not know what to do with a baby who was irrational and unpredictable. But somehow the magic still happened and love bloomed. Soon coaxing a giggle from the little one became the most important task on the ‘To Do’ list.

I had written in an earlier blog that my friends love posting pithy sayings on Facebook. Recently one that caught my eye was “No one remembers their job designation on their dying day”. That sounds a little bleak but it’s true, I am sure. I can definitely vouch for the fact that the all-important deadline loses its relevance within days if not hours of it being met. This year’s performance rating becomes stale within a few weeks into the new financial year.

So with that thought in mind, I have decided so give Careergirl a little bit of a rest. Well, she isn’t really riding off into the sunset but the work suits and power pearls will be out only a few days in the week. I have decided to cut back on my working hours. I am going on a long six week sabbatical in a couple of weeks’ time and after that I will be deadline chasing for only 3 days a week. On the remaining four days you will find me strolling in the park, dealing with messy spills, trying to cook up a storm, reading out stories of fairies who live in the garden, doing some yoga, watching the tv (might be the cartoon channel but still…). I am so looking forward to all that. Well, I am not naïve and I know it will be a lot of hard work. But then who’s scared of hard work? Certainly not me!  If you do not believe me, just check my utilization stats at work for the past few years.