thewilltoholdon

As I breathe and think and dream


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To Long Lost Friendship

This morning I had a weird urge to look up those people on Facebook who had once been my friends when I was still with my ex. I have not been in touch with these people for the last five years if not more. Once upon a time they used to mean so much. There was a time when their name cropped up so frequently in my conversations. I knew who was having a fling with whom, who was expecting her first child, how one was trying to resuscitate a floundering business, how someone else had switched jobs, how someone was a compulsive liar. I met these people frequently – at parties, on Sunday brunches, in nightclubs, on vacations. There were some I liked a lot, some a little less and others whom I was not too fond of at all. However they all meant something. They used to be a part of my life, for good or for worse.
Now they are all gone. They vanished when my ex and I rode off into the horizon … in opposite directions. I have no idea whether that person did manage to turn his business around or whether the then pregnant lady had a boy or a girl. Busy as I am in my new life, majority of the time I barely spare those people a thought. But sometimes in a rare spare moment, their thought returns to irk me. I miss the presence of those friends/acquaintances of old times.
And this is not just about friends lost due to the crumbling of a marriage. I think of all those friends who had once been an integral part of my life and who now mean nothing. They are either lost to me completely or are reduced to an infrequent status update on Facebook, most times ignored. Where is X, the girl who was my best friend in junior school? She used to wear her brown hair in plaits and had a horde of younger brothers and sisters. We used to be so close that on days, when she was absent from school, I felt lost. Where is Y whom I used to share a room with ten years ago when I started my work life? I daresay I can find out where she lives these days from Facebook or some other social site. But here we are talking about the girl I used to chat with till 4 am many nights, sharing laughter, tears and deep secrets about boys and life. It feels weird that the girl who once used to know me better than myself, is now a stranger. Where is Z, the guy I once had a secret crush on fifteen years ago? I remember When I had discovered he had a girlfriend, I had been so heartbroken that I cried myself to sleep for a week.
They say we carry with us all those friends who matter. Do we? I have friends now. Precious though they are to me, they have never been able to replace all the different flavors of friends I have lost over the years. Maybe I should have made more of an effort to keep in touch. Maybe this is what life is and we are all ships in the night, passing through. Maybe one day I will once again rekindle that lost friendship with someone from the past. But for now, I raise a toast to all those long-lost friends and acquaintances. Here’s to you, guys! I miss you all.

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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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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.

 


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15B, Happiness Way

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I thought I would write a blog about the weird behaviour of the healthcare nurse at my daughter’s 8th month check-up yesterday. Once she heard R was just having a few spoons of solid food each day, the lady in question became so bent up on underscoring the importance of the stuff and how R should really be having a cupful of fruits and vegetables three times a day that she turned somewhat manic. She definitely succeeded in stressing both me and my husband out. Whole day I had nothing but the word S-O-L-I-D-S flashing in my head and I also felt very indignant when I thought about the nurse’s lack of social skills. By evening I was fuming and armed with loads of stories from fellow moms at work who have had similar unpleasant experiences, I was determined to write a scathing blog lambasting bossy nurses with terrible bedside manners. However when I woke up this morning, I felt surprisingly mellow and yesterday’s big thing seemed diminished.

I remember one quote posted by a friend on Facebook. Incidentally I find it very strange that people are always posting these inspirational posters on their wall. Scrolling down the newsfeed is basically trawling through reams of quotes about the importance of time, broken hearts, dads who are heroes, superwomen moms, and more. Most times I just race past those. But undoubtedly there are a few good ones out there at times. The one I am referring to now, talked about how life is not about the actions of others but rather our reactions to those actions. Our happiness is ultimately tied to how we react.

I have decided this morning that I will not react negatively to things or spend time pondering on those. Instead I will celebrate the good things that have happened – both big and small. So, Healthcare Nurse, I have nothing against you now. You were probably doing your best. And I have met enough lovely midwives and nurses to know that most of them are really awesome. As for my daughter, she will learn how to accept solids at her own pace. I don’t see her as the only 20 year old in history living on infant formula!

 So at least for today, I will focus on the good things in my life that make me happy every day and give thanks to God that there are so many. This is what I am celebrating this week –

1)      R is crawling everywhere now. In the evenings this week whenever I made dinner, she crawled into the kitchen and made a beeline for me. On drawing level with me, she would delicately pat my leg asking to hoisted up. Awww! I love this phase so much.  

2)      I finished 2 interesting books this week – crisp taut thrillers both. Started on thriller number 3. I am really enjoying my train commute into city these days.

3)      Made a couple of dinners this week that were very well received. The first was chicken biryani on Monday night and while that dish is fairly normal in my household, I am proud of the stuff I cooked on Tuesday – Kung Pao chicken with steamed rice and Mee Goreng with seafood. Even if I do say it myself, they tasted as good as the ones served in restaurants.

4)      Had a few funny experiences at work. A colleague lost his pants at the gym on Monday and walked around in office all day in his cripsly formal shirt and electric blue gym shorts. The visual was so ridiculous that none of us could help bursting out with laughter, even while feeling very sorry for the guy. Heard a hilarious anecdote from the girl who shares my cubicle about how a couple of years ago she accidentally toasted a mouse along with bread and unknowingly ate the toast. Eeeek! Well, office can be a lot of fun at times.

5)      On the serious side, today was the deadline for a piece of work at office and everything got finished well within time. That is nothing short of a miracle!

6)      K had a good appraisal at his workplace. I am happy that all his hard work has paid off as he really has been slogging out for long hours for the past year and more.

7)      I got two posts in this week and this is the third. I haven’t been this productive since the first week after I signed up. Awesome!

Happy Friday, everyone! Enjoy your weekend.

So what made you happy this week?


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Motherhood Clichés

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I know this sort of post has probably been done a thousand times before, if not more. So I am definitely not trying to write anything unique here. Maybe that is just as good – as when I do try to write unique stuff, in the end it turns out that it has all been done before. It seems I don’t have a single new thought in my head. Imagine how crushing that feeling is. You think you are this special one with special thoughts specially buzzing in your oh-so-special head. But finally it seems everyone is as special or more.

Anyways I digress. Returning to this post. This is about and for my baby daughter who is growing up so fast that I cannot believe my eyes. (Aha, I’d told you this stuff has been done before. You should have stopped reading this in the first paragraph itself! Since you did not heed my advice then, you now have to listen to me rambling on and on in that typical mommy fashion about how cute and talented my baby is.)

Time heals. Time is money. No, wait, those aren’t the right clichés. Time flies!  Yes, that’s the one.  Time has definitely been flying and these past eight months have gone by in the blink of an eye. (Well, I really did blink just the one time as certainly not many blinks or shut-eyes have been happening for me in this last two-third of the year!) Anyways, last time I checked my baby was this wrinkled and splotchy redfaced screamer. And now she resembles a human being and behaves like one too. A slightly demented and off-the-rocker human being. But then there are so many adults who are worse so I am definitely not holding that against a baby. The screaming bit hasn’t changed much – though R has trained me to hazard a few guesses about the reasons for the screams and the possible fifty things that might get her to stop or not.

When R was around 2-3 months old, she was fascinated by doorways. She would be door watching all the time. I think she was totally blown away by the concept that doors were gateways to a magical world where people vanished and then sometime reappeared as either themselves or as a whole new person. Now she can crawl. She crawls from room to room always pausing at the doorway and then sticking out her head to check  whether any dangerous creatures are lurking around. Doorways have lost their allure. I hope she is not losing all her faith in magic!

R perhaps thinks that she is the royal baby born a year ahead of time and whatever her heart desires will just appear in front of her exactly the way she wants it to. She certainly throws royal tantrums if that does not happen! And she is impossible to contain these days. She does not want to sit still. She even dislikes her old favourite of being held and rocked. Independence strikes so early. And there I had been bemoaning a scant few days ago that my arms were aching from carrying her around.

A thought that keeps coming into my mind pretty often that I must be an awful Mummy (another very unoriginal thought I am told!).  Certainly I am not one of those zen-like calm capable Mothers who can take all that motherhood throws their way and continue sewing or knitting or whatever it is they do.  Their houses are vacuumed each day. They do not keep losing one baby sock each day and they never run out of nappies.

Well I might be one scatty mom but I love you, my Pumpkin. Even when you won’t sleep in your cot and  after I relent and bring you into bed with me, you kick me awake every half an hour. Even when you used your tiny fingers to pry out the right arrow key on my laptop keyboard. Even when you gnawed on both sets of the car keys with your toothless gums so and now it is a ten minute task to unlock the car doors. Even when you scream blue murder whenever we go on a long drive or even short one to the nearest supermarket. I love you soooo much! You see, while I have come to terms with the fact that I am extremely average; I have discovered that you are indeed the most special human being on this earth.