Conversations around the house

KT is off on a work related trip and I have promptly parked myself at my parents’ place, looking forward to a nice lazy time.

I wake up at 6 45 am to find the lunch cooked, boxes packed and the breakfast being readied. A cup of steaming hot coffee finds its way to me and I read the paper peacefully.

(Things I’d have been doing at my place, same time simultaneously:  Keeping an eye on the boiling milk, chopping veggies, screaming at KT to wake up, eyeing the ticking clock and thanking my stars that we don’t have a kid)

I tell amma that I have a headache and a second cup of coffee finds its way to me. She gives me a couple of things to do, drying a shirt, hunting for her watch, putting the packed lunch boxes into the bags, turning out a light in the bathroom..

As she leaves I ask her if she’s had her calcium supplement and of course she hasnt..because there’s no time and she’s running late as she has to reach the work place by 7 45 am. So I fetch the tablet and a glass of water and hand it to her as she runs out of the door.

I wave out to her as she suddenly stops in her tracks. She smiles and says “I feel like a princess”

I watch her face for the sarcasm. There was none.

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Chugging along

The dry patch that I’ve run into writing wise, seems to be much bigger than a patch. But on a hot summer Madras afternoon, sitting alone with only my thoughts I started reflecting upon my life as it is now, how it was a few years ago, how the life of people around me is and where I fit in. Change. A simple six letter word, uncomplicated to pronounce. I say the word out loud and marvel at the ease at which it rolls off the tongue..but the huge implications of it all. My first post of the year was this nasty cynical rant, written at a time of high levels of work related frustration, fatigue thanks to over work, yet another bout of low BP induced giddyness. Im sitting here now in a vastly different situation. Got myself a transfer to another team, where the quality of work is way better, the hours much shorter. I was so scared to even ask for this move as I really didnt want to hear a no, but it happened so seamlessly, in a matter of less than a week and my life changed.

Sometimes I feel the facets of my life move like the rails on a track. Parallel. The good and the shit happens. At the same time. I don’t think there has ever been a point in time where I’ve known only happiness or I’ve known only sorrow. All I know is that my happiness has always been guilt tinged, because of the bad that happens parallely and indeed that the bad has been a little more acceptable thanks to the good. Loosely I’d say that the good essentially has been my reasonably seamless academic record and subsequently work, and of course being with KT and the bad is the situation involving my dad and how much I feel for my mother, the helplessness that you can’t do much with the situation.

My mother seems to have absorbed all the bad luck or vibes, call it what you will with respect to marriage and only the good seems to have filtered out to me. She seems to have infinite patience in dealing with the scene, something that infuriates me and my brother, who is now going through what I did some years back. He left home post school and has returned after a four year period..during which time the issues hit the ceiling and drove us insane. The darkest times of my life was when was studying for my CA Finals, sitting at home, with no respite from a drunk – in a gambling induced stupour dad. I was driven to  a point when I was a nervous wreck, unable to read, when I actually abused my dad’s gambling buddies on the phone, pummelled my dad..I can see my brother go through that now and it depresses me. I am away from the actual scene and can afford to be more rational and tolerant about him now, saying things like he’s terribly mentally ill and that he is in need of help etc. But its tough to be all of that when you are the actual recipient of mental abuse and when you see your mother targetted as well. You wonder what the end is to all of this. Things like divorce or a separation are not practical so late in life. Abandoning is more the term. Its dark and depressing.

And I play the chameleon. Cheerful, confident, full of opinions on every subject under the sun to the outside world. When a part of me is dead, numb. KT is a darling, throws me little surprises every now and then. Spoils me rotten, says thank you when I try and help out his weight loss efforts, when I make a small extra effort round the house when he is sick. And I react badly sometimes to the kindness he shows.  I cry and rant when he gets me a little gift. I am not sure if I can even explain the complex thoughts in my head, that I actually feel guilty for having a happy married life, I almost feel like asking for some off the happiness taken away and directed towards my mother if there has to be an equilibrium to these matters.

I try constantly to put things in perspective, not look at myself in isolation. To look at other people and their happiness and their sorrow. My uncle lost his mother, brother and a little nephew in a span of three months. The nephew, a cancer patient died in an accident. Life can get so bizarre, surely mine isnt as bizarre. Strangely that thought gives me comfort.

We  got ourselves a treadmill and I am getting a nice pair of shoes. Going to work out for 20 minutes everyday and the thought makes me happy. We’re eating healthier and it feels good. A short holiday has been planned in June and that’s something to look forward to. The IPL is here again and is grating on my nerves! So much for being a cricket lover! Lalit Modi is simply annoying, with close competition from Shilpa Shetty and of course the commentators (Mandira Bedi and Co). The only saving grace of the even is Mr Fake IPL Player..he is absolutely hilarious and I’m a huge fan of his!

I need to get my passport renewed and will hopefully get rid of that terrible picture from the teenage days, where I look gawky, insolent and totally badly dressed. I am yet to take my new picture..so wish me luck (I am in the middle of a terrible haircut though)!

Someone reading this post will probably think I have bi polar depression or something…wait is that my rails of a track theory. I know I’m lucid though!

Blast From the Past – Sports Days

I was never a major athlete but I loved to take part in sporting events. I was on the basketball team in school, dabbled in athletics, table tennis and even was on the House volleyball team albeit to make up the numbers.

More than the inter school matches which were by far few (and us dainty darlings were trounced by the corporation school kids) the inter House events were one of the most memorable part of school for me. Staying back in school post classes for matches, races and relays, being able to traipse around the place in short, juniors and seniors (boys that is) cheering you on if you belonged to their House, the competition, the cat fights, the adrenalin rush!

Oh I miss all of that! We compete everyday with people at work, but behind that there are multiple considerations, of a livelihood being earned, of trying to balance work and life, of “fulfillment” being sought at the workplace. We don’t compete just for the sake of competing. It stops being a fun activity, at times it stops being healthy.

Winning these events won us medals and cups and certificates. We beamed and walked up to get these little baubles on Sports Day, proud and happy in front of our parents and indeed other parents. I even took pride in the fact that I was a regular on the choir that sang the prayer and the national anthem! Winning the overall shield was an icing on the cake and the House members shared such a unique bond…a bond that transcended age and sex..where the only common link was the House one belonged to! It was thanks to these events that I met my really good friend as well! We held “meetings” and conducted them with such seriousness and in full earnest that only teenagers could invest in such seemingly unimportant things. Who was to be on the team, who was to be given the boot, the politics was there but largely most people got to participate considering the small size of the school.

One of my heart’s secret desires was to become a captain of my House or even the school! And I stood a very good chance of this happening if not for our move to Madras and I had to change schools in Standard XI when the captains were typically nominated. After my change of school, I found it very difficult to garner that loyalty for my new House, I did take part in the events, but my soul was not there.

My very last Sports Day at this wonderful school was washed out. It was the first time I was supposed to take part in a 100 metre race, the only event that was held on the Sports Day (all other events were spread out over a 1 month period prior to the actual day) and I was a bit nervous about it. But it never happened and the year I left the management changed and they actually stopped holding inter house events (it was almost like the Taliban banning everything under the sun) and other extra curricular activity. That maniac of a principal was thankfully removed a couple of years later and the tradition was revived.

At times I wonder if that part of me is still alive somewhere in me. That girl in blue shorts and a yellow t shirt, running around dribbling a ball, defending baskets, “terrorizing” the opponents with my long hands that could tap the ball away from opponents, the girl who tried out every event including shotput (yeah thin me – almost fracturing my wrist in the process), the girl who surprised everyone even herself by taking part in a high jump event after there was a last minute drop out and placing third, free spirited and happy.

Nowadays we play Scrabble and Battleship.

Hell the nuns were right!

I went to a college run by nuns. Now that meant very strict rules. No short tops, no sleeveless clothes, no tight pants, no capris even. They’d have been happy if we landed up in college wearing a salvar kameez set with the dupatta pinned up.

And it goes without saying that there were people flouting the rules and the nuns would patrol the campus, “catch” girls in objectionable clothes and send them back home to change and come back. Essentially they played party pooper.

So yesterday I finally saw merit in their argument. So here’s why you must not wear short stuff. The heroine of the story is moi, who finally sits down to cook dinner after many days. I was a little rusty about my “processes” and went on to take the hot pressure cooker and place it on the counter. I then busied myself with the vegetable I was making and reached out to the shelf about the counter to get the salt. And then I felt a stab of pain and I shrank back, not knowing what hit me. Thanks to my short top which rode up when I reached for the salt, my stomach came in contact with the cooker and I got a nice red burn on my poor tummy.

So yeah either I need to follow the nun dictat or not lose touch with cooking (I dont think I ever put hot stuff where I did!). Sigh!

Masakali

Ok I am absolutely in love with the song. I think Sonam Kapoor looks like a million bucks, has so much character and just lights up the screen. If I was a lesbian, I’d surely be hitting on her. There is some sort of an explanation to the meaning of the word here.

The song is the heroine’s “aspiration to break free and fly high”. Nice. I want to be like that too. Live life without a care in the world, not be constrained by a million things, be able to break into a dance whenever, uninhibited. Strictly from the song (I really don’t know what kind of a character she’d turn out to be in the movie), that girl is everything I’m not. I’m more like Shahana Goswami in Rock On, except that I do not have a good for nothing husband and I’m not bitter enough to grudge other people’s successes. You know that tired rubbing of eyes, cribbing about everything under the sun, the feeling of being short changed. Yep that’s me. As much as I try to stay positive there’s something that comes in the way, pulling me down.

And KT and I have been going on trips. Guilt trips. He feels that he cannot do things for me that will enable to me to loosen up and go after what I want. And I am so guilty that I am turning out to be more of a guest in the house. Coming home to do some more work and sleep. Food is either provided by my mother or KT russles up a simple meal. And that is horribly unfair.. I’m not able to keep up my part of the deal. My ma has been trying to get me to get a cook, but I really don’t think we’d be able to manage one and get work done out of her. I’m just trying to think rationally and not let emotions come into play. But my rational thoughts are so intermingled with my emotions that I am helpless. Also my rational self says go find another job. The current market says bwahahaahaha. And my emotions say boohoo, there’s no way out of this mess. Can I just go to sleep and wake up when the recession lifts?

As regards KT’s guilt with respect to me, I honestly feel the feelings are completely baseless. Anyone remember this post I did on my MBA plans. Well I decided to shelve them and for the first time in my life I’m completely at peace with this decision. One of my biggest grouses has been the timing of my marriage and I essentially felt that it completely poured hot water over my B School plans. Now in hindsight, had I not been married, I would have passed out of B School in 2009. And been in a huge soup. A soup whose main ingredients would have included meagre savings, a student loan and the prospect of finding a job in this wonderful market. I can be pretty sure that I’d have killed to be in the position that I am now. And the thing is after this, getting an MBA and trying to get a job leveragin that MBA doesnt sound like a very interesting proposition. So Im completely fine with the idea of not getting it. A CA and CFA (which I will hopefully complete soon) sounds good enough. Plus I’m having a lot of Buddha moments here..and am receiving enlightenment by leaps and bounds.  So yeah KT. Relax. We’re doing fine. And you know that its not in my DNA to quit and sit at home for a bit before I can find another job also. So you can rest assured that its not just money that is forcing me to work here.

And when you hear of people losing jobs, facing so many uncertainties, my problem of too much work actually sounds like a blessing. My main issue is that my body refuses to let me work like a maniac and I am pulled down further by the callousness that abounds at the workplace. I just wonder if it is all worth it.

I just decided that I’d go get myself a spa treatment.. a nice head massage perhaps. Let me see if what people say about emerging dewy fresh is really true!

In which we play the Grinch

Alright! Pardon the bad rhyme. But yeah I’m really pissed. Super mad. So yeah Christmas came and went? Oh that useless year of a 2008 also passed us by? Really, you don’t say?! None of it made one iota of a difference to me. Its been an endless stream of work..the days morphed into nights and sleep and food have been calculated necessities. Apart from the stress of the work, I ensured that I planned out my sleep, drinking that one cup of Protinex, ensuring that some breakfast went down my throat. Sort of like a car that you need to feed petrol in, switch off the engine to prevent over heating.

I’m done with this being Ms Busy..working all the time. The patience has really worn off…I’ve been doing this for more than five years now. The night outs, the high pressure of ensuring that 100% levels of accuracy in the output, mistakes are disaster in what I do, some companies are still reeling under the mistakes made by my boss (evil grin), SMSes in the middle of the night from managers asking if I’m free, not being able to attend to a sick husband, turning my mom into some kind of a caterer. I’ve had it.

However that’s not to say that I want to stop working, far from it really. But I want to move to something more comfortable than this pressure cooker, equally or more challenging, in Madras, in the times of the slow down. Yeah so if some one knows of a boutique IB or a PE fund that does two or three deals in a year and is based here, do let me know. Simple want yeah.

THAT MEANS IM STUCK HERE FOREVER AND EVER!!!!!!!!!!

All around people are looking at putting 2008 behind them. And hoping that 2009 will change the tide. You know that idealistic way of looking at things. Of new clean slates to start over with. A crisp white page, a clear day after the storm, new and full of promise. At my heightened state of cynicsm I can only snigger and say bah. Wait till reality catches up with you! You making a resolution to lose weight? Been off the sweets for five whole days now? Just wait till the temptation creeps back. Wait for the novelty of the new year to fade and then we’ll see.

Yeah and on that note I will end this lovely, sunshiney post. And yeah I dare 2009 to prove me wrong.

Bombay

Have taken up this tag from Broom..my top ten favourite things (in no particular order) about Bombay, a city I lived in for less than a year, a city that feels like home.

1. For the longest time, Bombay has been this Promised Land for me, a chartered accountant student who lived in Madras (where every other job is in the IT sector). So to anyone who wanted to know my plans post my CA, I would reply that I’d go to Bombay and find myself a job in corporate finance. The train blasts happened two days before my results came out and typically my mother said that I can stay put in Madras and take up whatever job comes my way. But I went away anyway and was a single girl living alone in the big city. I don’t think any other city would have thrown its arms open to me like that. And I managed a crazy job and my home reasonable well and Bombay helped me prove to all the naysayers that I would be unsafe there and wouldnt be able to manage all by myself. That is the real beauty of Bombay, welcoming and open.

2. Nariman Point. Yeah I know its not exactly a Manhattan or a Hong Kong. Yes, they’re mostly ugly old buildings with paan stains all around. But for me from a city where the tallest building still remains (?) the LIC Building, I was in awe. Of the country’s most important CBD, of the power that was encased here. I was proud to be a part of it all.

3. The NCPA. My main source of entertainment. Friday evening plays. Photograph / art exhibitions during lunch break. I loved the place and still rue the fact that we don’t have a similar establishment in Madras.

4. Marine Drive. This is cliched I know. But still it is one of my favouritest places in the world. The day I left Mumbai, I really wanted to take a walk down the area one last time. But I was working really late and had to rush home..to my absolute delight my flight passed by the area the next morning and I took in the oh so familiar sights, the Air India building, The Oberoi, the cricket stadiums and the beautiful ocean. I’ve never before and since then flown over the area. I remember my afternoon post lunch walks, the walks in the evening taking in the beautiful lights, the watching the place getting transformed in the night with the horse carriages and the peanut sellers.

5. I know this is wierd and is not exactly what I love about Bombay as much as something I was fascinated by. The shoe shine boys. In every station, on the roads in Nariman Point..they to me represent enterprise…the way they sense opportunities..of harried office goers rushing out from trains, bringing their appearance up to speed. The vigourous polishing, the sounds of their implements…

6. The Vashi bridge. Bombay to me was South Bombay and Vashi. The bridge was literally that, between those two worlds. That flurry of cool fresh air, blowing in my face, looking down, trying to guess the tide, the sight of Centre One mall, the station, signalling the end of yet another train journey..

7. Strand Book store. Books were my faithful friends in the time I spent alone in Bombay. A friend took me to this quaint little book store and I was hooked. By the number of books, the variety, the discounts and Mr Shanbhag. I found it so touching when he’d run after me in the store, offering me a chair to sit.

8. The Wankhede and Brabourne stadiums. The cricket lover in me was delighted to realise that both of Bombay’s main stadiums were a stone’s throw away from my office. The jobless creature that I was I’ve watched Ranji matches and some vague twenty twenty matches between Indian state teams and Tamilnadu won much to my happiness!!

9. Naturals Ice cream, specifically the one on Marine Drive again. A place where we’d run away to whenever we could afford a longish lunch break.

10. The yellow and black cabbies and the autowallahs. Coming from a place like Madras I marvelled at these guys, who were obviously living in a much more expensive city than mine and would yet not make an attempt to fleece (trips originating from the airport were horrendous and those guys do not come under this). They would return change of even a rupee and I’ve done so many trips from Nariman Point to Vashi late in the night and have not come to harm even once.

I have so far painted this oh so romantic picture of my time in Bombay. It was most certainly not all rosy, I was lonely, homesick, had long long commutes, worked crazy hours, had lousy food (cooked by me, a complete novice), missed KT, had bad bais, had some bad experiences, bad bosses et all.  Returning to Chennai, I was given the royal treatment, like I’d been kidnapped for the months I was away..like I’d survived some trauma. Everyone who knew me thought the kind of life I’d led was really bad, the non stop running, surviving the trains. Looking back even I’m amazed at my the life I had and wonder what I fuss about sometimes here..Yet I have come away with so many happy memories (the fact that I had plenty of alone time with KT for the first time in my life and that he lived with me whenever he was in town has a lot to contribute to this. The only city in India I would like to live in other than Madras is Bombay. Love you Bombay for welcoming the starry eyed girl that I was and keeping me safe and happy.