Thursday, November 17, 2011

Joka Diary - 8

This might be a short post, depending on when the cab turns up. I am going to Europe on a short study tour. So going forward, the title would temporarily read as 'Europe Diary', that is if I write at all! Study tour is a complete misnomer, the schedule provided by the college doesn't show any studies, and neither do we intend to do any. So it is basically going to be a vacation in the midst of our MBA course.

To say that I am excited is an understatement. I am that, and more. To be honest, I am petrified, so darn scared that I have tidied up my flat just in case I don't return and they need to break in. I have said my goodbyes to family and friends, and to Pari and Chia. No, I don't think I dying, not so soon in any case, but I fear getting lost and stranded. We are a group of 20 people traveling to Dubai from Kolkata, and to London from there on. It is me and 19 men. I hope that at least one of them remembers that I exist. Once in the flight, I will start worrying about dying from hypothermia and catching pneumonia. A girl has every right to fear for her life and well-being.

On the brighter side, the husband was here for the last 5 days. We spent a lot of quality time together - shopping, eating and more shopping. So well, it wasn't just time that we spent, a lot of money went down the drain as well. To give some credit to self, for once, I have tried to act unlike myself, which means sensible. I have made all the effort to not get carried away, trying to restrict my shopping to essentials, keeping the baggage allowance in mind all the time. Pat on the back!

Alright, the cab is here. You take care and stay good. I will try to do the same. So long!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pictures : the porcelain baby

While going through our old pictures, I came across these..

I can't remember having seen them like ever, they were just buried somewhere in our hard disk. And to find them made me very pleased and very sad at the same time. Pari is exactly a month over 1 year in these. What would I not give to get back my porcelain baby.. Time, thou art a fickle mistress!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Joka Diary - 7

IIM C is notorious for its inclination towards Finance. Also, the faculty is known to take a quantitative approach to all subjects possible. For instance, when I mention the subject as Human Resource Management, can you in your wildest dreams imagine that it is a totally mathematical subject? Well, to be fair, it has some game theory and probability also thrown in, fat consolation indeed! And to make things more interesting, the Finance profs are really cute. Look up the dictionary meaning of 'cute' to make sense of it. For instance, consider BBC - the prof who teaches us Derivatives. He follows a set routine for his sessions. He begins by asking the students to look at the course outline, and tell him what topic is scheduled for the day. The entire class waits with baited breath in great suspense while some sincere student, who cares enough to carry the syllabus to the class everyday, reveals the topic. Once the topic is disclosed, BBC spends the next 5 minutes lamenting on how simple the topic is. The look of disappointment on his face is so stark, we just cannot restrain ourselves from sympathizing with him. It is grave injustice on the part of the Institute to insult his genius by giving him such simplistic things to teach. And I am not sarcastic when I say genius. BBC had topped his batch when he was a student in the Institute and has his name firmly engraved on the revered board. Anyways, once he is able to get over his grief, he starts teaching, which involves running lecture slides @57/min, and telling us that there is really nothing in there which we cannot read from the book. Finally he likes some particular slide, and pauses there, spending around 23 seconds on explaining it. Also, he relates a couple of incidents, closely related to the subject to further deepen our understanding of derivatives. All his anecdotes invariably revolve around some or the other unfortunate student who flunked in his subject, and there are plenty of such student samples available given that he has been teaching for close to 20 years now. Most of the anecdotes end on a happy note. The student never passes that particular finance course, but goes on to become some highly successful executive once he finally manages to get out of the college. What he probably wants to impress upon the class is that you can never be too smart to fail an exam. And so each horror story end with some wise words - 'Study well and start now, else later, nothing can be done.' However, the class has taken his anecdotes very sportingly, and few plan to study. Contrary to the prof's expectation, his threats have a funny effect on us. We have actually come to believe that we would all land excellent placements and do exceedingly well in life if we can manage to flunk in at least one of the finance courses. Not that it is any difficult for us!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Because, at times..

..I miss Him too!

Need we say more? :P

The picture is part of my 'Countdown to The Wedding' collection. We took one picture a day, every day of the month preceding our wedding. Wipe off that smirk, the rest of them are pretty mundane -- of us sitting casually, watching TV, looking for an apartment in the Times classified, having dinner or just laughing together. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic like that. The pictures were taken by my lovely flatmates-- T & A. Both of them were overly thrilled about our wedding, perhaps even more than us. They took the job of taking the daily pic really seriously. So much that even if we forgot, they wouldn't let Him leave for his place till the pic for the day was taken. And the girls suggested us different poses to bring variety in the pictures-- this smooch being one of them :D Thanks gals, you made it really special for us!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The best-laid plans..

..go awry. I am a big show-off. Yes, that is exactly what I am. Did I tell you I am supposed to head home today? Of course I would have told ya, because I have told half the world about it. I have been dreaming about the Dussera trip to home, even before returning from the previous trip, that was barely 10 days back. And I have been dreaming of the Bara Bangalia Durga Puja which I haven't seen since 2002. And obviously looking forward to spending time with Pari and the Husband. Being a loud mouth is acceptable, when you have a big brain to keep up with it. For bird-brains like me, it spells disaster and embarrassment.

I am not going home today, or any time soon. My train tickets were wait-listed, and they still are. The husband had got them for me almost 3 months back, and both of us had forgotten that they were in the waiting-list. Wait, hold on the urge to laugh. There is more entertainment coming. Like the mess had mutton-biryani in lunch today, and I ate very less despite it being my most-favorite dish. Yeah.. because I believe in 'traveling light'. And Oh, did I mention how cleverly I left my stuff at home on the last visit, 'abhi to 10 din me phir se aana hi hai'. Bah! Hold on, the best is yet to come. There are plenty of people forced to stay on the campus because they couldn't get their reservations. I generously offered to share my berth with them in case they could work it out with the TC. Not just that, yesterday I spent the entire evening downloading movies to watch on my way. You see, I like to really plan things in advance and prepare well for the travel. Now if only I had had the good sense to check the status of my tickets!

I am still trying to get tickets in Tatkal, for Monday if not earlier. The railway-booking website isn't working though. Luckily for Pari, the husband is reaching Alld. tonight. The poor child is waiting for us. And you know what, he got his tickets altered at the last moment, so that he could reach Alld. before me and receive me at the station. It was important, since Papa is not in town, and my train reaches past midnight. Have no doubts folks, we are good at planning!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Joka Diary - 6

So much has been happening -- both inside and outside Joka. And I have been too busy (read lazy) to chronicle either. A post on Pari is also long due. Next one, for sure! Alright, lets begin with the updates. I am into my fourth term now, over 5 months already spent in Joka. This weekend, my M-I-L visited the campus. Did I mention that the Prime minister visited us last month. No? Never mind.. that wasn't really important. Lets focus on the M-I-L's visit. I got really excited at the prospect of having her here. So much that I went around the campus telling people of her visit, only to be harassed in return. My classmates threatened to complain to her of all the things that I never said, and all the misdemeanors, which I did not commit. That did little to dampen my excitement, which took me to a new level of cleanliness. As it is, this flat of mine is quite small and easy to maintain, and I am usually too busy to even mess it up. Still, M-I-L's visited warranted a more thorough scanning of the flat, all the nooks and corner for hidden cobwebs/fungus and their elimination. Did I tell you how quickly we get mold here? The climate here is so hot and humid that if I leave a black shirt out of the cupboard, for say overnight, the next morning it develops white patches of mold. Talking about Joka, this is going to be my pet peeve.

Mother has her sister and parents living here, who duly collected her from the airport. And then, I brought her to the campus in the evening. It is usually difficult to get a taxi to Joka, but that day was extra special. We struggled to even get an auto-rickshaw. To cut a long story short, we got into 4 vehicles - 3 autos and a bus to reach the campus. And I paid 100 bucks to the last auto, to drive us less than 2 kms. A very eventful journey indeed! Next morning, it was bright and shiny when I took her to the mess for the breakfast. Less than 15 minutes later, it was raining so heavily that we both got soaked to the bone on the way back, despite the umbrella. Later, when the rain finally stopped, I took her around the campus. And honestly, I had no idea that the campus is so huge. I haven't seen even half of it I guess. All said and done, we had a great time and M-I-L turned out be my first guest in Joka.

With the Durga Puja approaching fast, the college is buzzing with frantic activity. There is a Puja committee, which is responsible for putting up the puja pandal, and they have done a damn good job of it. A grand wooden structure has been erected and the entire campus is lit up. And now, the deities have arrived too. We saw the campus workers taking them off the trailers on our way back from dinner. It is going to be fun here, though I am leaving for home tomorrow and will be back only in time for the immersion. Here's wishing a very happy Dussera to all!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Does every post need one - 'Title'?

I wake up, tired and listless after an almost 3 hour long struggle against sleeping wakefulness or wakeful sleeping, whichever way you choose to look at it. I have been delirious, oscillating seamlessly between my house in Allahabad, and my flat in Joka. I spend sometime in my dream, talking to my mom, she asking me to get ready for a family event, my sister already dressed up in a saree. I wonder aloud, why are these kids so crazy about donning a saree? These are the same girls who would grow up to be women scorning at sarees, complaining how difficult it is to move around in one, when they are married and wearing saree is more of a social obligation than a choice. Sis gets miffed and walks out of the room. And I continue to tell my mom how I was just dreaming of her and the family event, and she smiles and confirms that it wasn't a dream. I really need to get ready for the event, and quickly since I have overslept already. Just as I feel reassured, for some weird reason, I force open my eyes, and find myself on my bed in Joka. Alright, so I have been hallucinating, and should jump out of the bed immediately to avoid further confusion. That doesn't happen. I go back to sleep and get transported to the family event in Allahabad again. This vicious circle, sleep->hallucinate->realize that it is a dream->try to wake up->go back to sleep->continues for the next 2 hours or so till I really get worked up and finally get out of the bed.

What is the first thing that you do after you wake up? I look in the mirror. As far as I can remember, I have always had a dressing table placed bang opposite to my bed, both in Allahabad, and in Bangalore. Here in Joka, the mirror is in the next room, but I am so used to looking at myself as the first thing after I wake up, that I actually sleep walk to the mirror. Today, I can see my skin glowing, not to the best of its ability, but definitely better than what it was in the morning. Which if you ask me, is not a good sign. My skin glows when I have a temperature. And the more sick I get, the more it glows. Believe me, kidding am I not! In fact, I have had some not-so-compassionate friends visit me during viral bouts, and comment that I didn't meet up their visual expectations of a sick person. The fever seriously makes me glow. Now why didn't I get fever on the day of my wedding, the world would have saved on a half-a-ton of makeup.

Whatever, I pop a crocin based on my interpretation of the symptoms. In any case I do not have a thermometer here. The husband wanted to buy me one when I was shopping for my stay here. I put forth an argument he couldn't refute -- 'I am going there to study, not to fall sick.' Now who can hold water against such razor sharp logic. And when a girl has such observation, intuition and a telltale skin, why waste on a thermometer?

If you can't make any sense out of this post, please do not blame your intellect, and don't as much as doubt my. I am, in all likeliness, still delirious..

Friday, July 29, 2011

Because I am missing her so much..

This is a video we captured a few days before leaving Bangalore. Ignore my unkempt house.. and just watch the miracle that she is!

While we are on Pari, some more pictures. Yesterday was 'Fruit day' in her school and she was the cherry. Below is the cherry that Mausi painted for her. Isn't she terribly lucky to have such a talented Mausi?

Monday, July 11, 2011


As I grow older and the world around me changes, my dreams or shall I call them nightmares, also appear to graduate to higher levels. Now that I have lived long enough to witness a couple of technological revolutions -- the internet & cellphones, and slept enough hours to get a pattern in those nightmares, I can actually trace the advancement, in my nightmares that is. My nightmares are almost always spun out of my fears. Like my fear of getting lost -- I have spent several nights trying to find my way out of some maze or trying very hard to reach some obscure place -- always in vain, and waking up in the morning really tired after all the struggle. Or my fear of absolute darkness. Growing up in Allahabad, electricity failures were a pretty regular feature in the evenings. And we did not have a generator/invertor for almost the entire first decade of my life. My nightmares then comprised of trying to grab a hand, of parents, grandparents, aunts-- just anybody from the family in the pitch darkness. However, now that I have been living away from family for quite sometime now, even the subconscious me doesn't turn to the family for support. I have just had a dream where I was stranded in the dark, feeling very very scared, and fumbling endlessly with my phone to turn on the torch in it, obviously with little success. I have bought this cellphone with the torch feature only two months back, and looks like my subconscious has already registered the update! Just curious, is it only me or has that happened to you too?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

And just when you are about to give up on life.. rains. It drizzles and it pours.. and then drizzles some more! As the heavens open up, the world suddenly turns into this beautiful place and life is once again, a bliss. That I am totally smitten with the rains is no secret, and the love just grows. I lusted after the rains in Allahabad, mushed over them in Bangalore as well, but I am totally floored by the rain in Joka. Less than a day into the monsoons, the campus has already turned a shiny green, what with all the moisture glistening over the leaves. The freshly-bathed frogs are holding concerts at their chosen venues, many of which happen to be by the lake-side, and the ripples in the lake(or is it the fishes beneath?) dance in unison. Isn't it serendipitous that our classes got over by 1.30 today, unlike usual days when we stretch till 5.30? Alright, here is my favorite rain song. Which is yours?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Joka Diary - 5

Time flies.. even when you are living away from family, pining for your home, buried under piles of books and subjected to a constant threat of exams and evaluations! To be fair, you also have the great company of fellow sufferers to alleviate your distress, partly at least. There are 43 other souls in the throes of the examination, burning the midnight oil, facebooking away to glory while the elusive nirvana lies somewhere in the powerpoint presentations that the faculty so graciously provides. It happens to me all the time, I open the laptop to look at the presentations, but unknowingly and invariably end up on facebook. Seriously, I hate facebook, so much that I am contemplating joining the 'I hate Facebook' group on facebook. Anyhow, the first term is over, and we are now in the second week of the second term. The classes are already running on full steam. However, people are occupied with other important things, viz. internship, study tour, placements, lattice and such. As for me, I am my usual lethargic self, trying to have a good time while sitting firmly on my lazy butt. Before coming to Joka, I had great plans of working on my personal development, and using this one year to come up with a better and improved me. I don't see any of it happening though. I remain as wasteful, non-committed and useless as ever. Alright, to give myself some credit, I have finally started cycling. For the other activities, we still have 6 terms left. Lets see.. tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

On mother's day -- about my child!

When Pari joined the new school, I had expected it to be a very different experience for the child and was overly concerned about her ability to cope with it. However, it is turning out to be more of an experience for the teachers and staff there than for Pari, or so it seems. Every day, my parents go to pick her from the school, their hearts trembling with fear and return with some new report which makes them tremble even more the following day. For one, Pari has cleared communicated to her teachers that she would write just one page a day and no more. So only the first subject in the day gets the golden opportunity to be done by her majesty, and the remaining are happily ignored. However, the writing work has to be completed to keep up with the norms of the school. The class teacher sends her notebooks home for completion of both classwork and homework. This arrangement is working out quite well since my mom is pretty hung up about getting tasks done in time. And so, mummy meticulously finishes all the writing work before Pari even wakes up from her afternoon siesta. You see, once she wakes up, Mom gets no time at all. She has to cook for Pari and feed her twice in the short span of 4 hours or so. And whoever has seen Pari eating would understand how insufficient that time is compared to the enormity of the task to be accomplished.

Writing work is only one of the grudges that Pari holds against the school. She complained to the teacher a couple of days back, I'll provide the transcript below.
Pari- 'It is too hot here.'
Teacher- 'Hmm.. yes.'
Pari- 'I have an AC at home. Why don't we have one here?'
Teacher- 'OK.. you bring your AC to school tomorrow.'
Pari- 'No, I won't.'

Later, when my mom reached to pick her, the teacher mentioned this to her. Even before she could finish,Pari screamed out -'She wants our AC. Nani, don't give it her!'

I can only imagine my poor mother's plight. Thank you mumma for keeping up with that headstrong child of mine. Wish you a Happy Mother's day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Technological romance

The college has asked for a short profile of all students, and I need a scanned picture of self to put into it. Now, I do not have any of my pictures scanned, so just checked with the husband if he has a copy. The man wasn't sure of it but promised to look for it all the same. Today he sends me this mail with my picture attached --

"Tumhari tasveer to mere dil mein basi hain.... to seena cheer ke usme USB cable laga kar yeh picture computer par download kari hai."

The technical detailing was really required!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The girl who wanted to say something..

Pari has joined a school in Allahabad. It is not the best school there, but then who knows what defines 'best', so I have put her in a school that I felt was good for her. I did try getting her into other schools. The entire week that I was in Allahabad, immediately before joining the course was spent visiting different schools and pleading with them to consider my child for an admission. In comparison, my admission into this MBA course was a cakewalk. There were 2 major obstacles- Pari has been attending a montessori so far, and has barely started writing, while the schools here expect a decent amount of writing from a child her age. Further, Pari is born in Jan, which is the most inappropriate month to be born in as per the recent CBSE directive. All, please plan your child such that he/she arrives only between March-September. Pari missed the train by a couple of months or so it seems. So even after finishing 2 years of formal schooling, she is still eligible for only LKG. At this rate, we would grey by the time she reaches the first standard, and in all probability look more like grandparents than parents of the child in question. Anyways, after much heart-burn and more importantly petrol-burn, I finally gave up, and agreed to put her in the only school that was willing to accept her in UKG, with some conditions ofcourse -- my mom's school. No, she doesn't own the school, but has taught there for a couple of years. It is comparatively far from home, and huge, and not a convent.

I had many apprehensions when I approached them for admission. I could see my little girl getting lost in the sea of children, and wasn't sure how well she would be able to cope with it. I mean her montessori had only around 25 children. However, once there, I was amazed at the warmth of the staff there. Obviously, they don't treat everyone the same way, it is only because they know my mom. I also felt that they hold her in really high esteem, probably because mom was rather over-qualified for this place. She had been a lecturer and taught under-graduate students earlier, apart from having taught IGCSE syllabus when she worked abroad for a couple of years. Whatever be the reason, it was very reassuring to see them treating Pari as family. For the first few days, mummy actually accompanied Pari to the classes and sat with her while she got adjusted to the new surroundings. We definitely got some undue advantage, but I think it is only fair to a child, who has shifted from a tiny playschool to a big school, from Bangalore to Allahabad, from parents to grand-parents. I had already left Allahabad by the time Pari started school, and so had to be content with the daily progress reports recieved via telephone. From what I was told, I felt Pari was settling down well in her new school... till this happened.

Generally, there is a separate assembly of primary children for the morning prayers. However, yesterday there was a special assembly in the school where in the primary section had joined the senior section and all children from nursery to Std 12th had prayers together. It being a special day, some additional events had been organised in addition to the usual prayers. I am told that after the events, Pari walked up to the Director of the school, who was addressing the assembly at the time. She asked the Director to give her the microphone, 'I want to say something'. To say the least, the poor lady was stunned. However, she did lower the microphone to Pari's level. And thus spake my 4 year old--'I liked the Marathi song, but why didn't we sing the national anthem today?' The assembly diluted in a fit of laughter. The director wasn't too pleased with this, but she still entertained the child, and said -'Why don't you tell them your name..' to which our lady snootily replied -'But I have already told them!'. She probably meant her classmates and teacher, ignoring the remaining junta. In any case, I am sure the entire school knows her name by now.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Waiting to get back..

A member of my erstwhile team pings me on gtalk. After an exchange of usual pleasantries, he says he often has this urge to ping me when he sees me online. I ask him why, and he says- 'I keep forgetting that you have left. Whenever I see you online, I tend to think that you are working from home.' Its been over a month since I quit the company!

One of my classmates turns up for classes in full formal dressing, and a dash of makeup. I get a little nervous and check with her if there are any presentations today, since I haven't prepared anything. She replies with a sad smile - 'No. I was missing my office.'

Corporate life isn't all that bad, what say?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Joka Diary - 4

I graduated from college in 2003, almost 8 yrs back. Coming back to college after such a long break is not easy, and especially for a rigorous course like this. I am having trouble sitting in the classroom for long hours, attending lectures from morning to evening and focussing on the discussions. No matter how hard I try, my mind tends to wander after half an hour of lecture, and by the time it returns, the discussion has already gone too far and I am unable to follow. I am not new to this, it happened all the time in school, college, even office meetings but I was able to join back whenever I chose to concentrate. However, the classes here are really fast-paced. Its like watching your first English movie, after years of watching Indian television serials. You have no previous experience to help you comprehend, you struggle with the thick foreign accent and by the time you get a hang of the thing, the movie gets over. I still can't watch English movies without subtitles, while for most Hindi movies, I think I wouldn't miss anything even if the volume is turned off.

Back to studies, apart from listening skills, it seems I need to re-develop my writing skills as well. I have simply not written anything except for my name on some bank papers in the last so many years. Writing in ruled notebooks is a major challenge, I am not able to stick to the bottom line and my letters just fly all over the page. Also, my handwriting is not what it used to be, and I keep making mistakes while taking notes. I think we can ask the instructor to be allowed to take notes on the laptop, but then it might not give me the feel of actually studying, which I so like. For now, I am giving it a decent try, but the examiner is going to have a tough time when he/she marks my answersheet. On a slightly different note, it has made me realise how difficult it is for Pari to write in a 4 line notebook when she has started writing just a couple of months back. I feel really guilty about all the times I have scolded her for not writing neatly.

Coming to Pari, I am really missing her now. There are a number of students, all of them obviously men who have come to the campus with their families. Strangely, most of them have daughters, and the children are always running around the hostel when we return from the classes. When I mentioned Pari to one of my classmates, he said what I am doing is commendable. I heard it as condemnable. Probably because thats what I think of leaving my daughter behind.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Joka Diary - 3

The title is getting boring, isn't it? And to think that I am about to spend the next entire year here-- 350 days, there is scope for around 50 more entries to the diary. Should I continue with the name, or should I be more creative? On second thoughts, I would rather spend time writing the journal than thinking about new titles. So the name sticks, at least for the time being.

It has been a pretty much uneventful weekend so far.. not that any excitement is expected during whatever is left of it, unless a frog jumps in my room. This has already happened once and I couldn't sleep the entire night, scared that the creature might just jump on my bed or worse still, on my head. My sister often caught frogs from our garden as a toddler, and brought them inside to show us -- 'Didi, dekho!'. I would dash out of the room very abruptly, leaving the child bewildered. I wonder if she is still that comfortable with frogs. Digression over, we visited the local market, aptly named 'Behaala' yesterday. The place was indeed 'behaal'.. buzzing with activity, and very crowded. We sighted a lot of ladies dressed in lovely, crisp cotton sarees, usually in white and off-white with pastel designs. It surprised me to see them dressed so immaculately for casual shopping. Whatever it is, I am so buying sarees before I leave Cal!

Today, the day was spent holed up in my flat except for the mandatory visits to the mess. I felt like catching up with the other girls but they were all in their respective flats, and I wasn't sure how welcome would I be. I think it is the same with the other girls, they probably wish to interact as well, but have their own apprehensions. Hopefully, we will be more comfortable knocking at each other's doors once we get to know the group better.

P.S. Just returned from dinner to find a frog jumping around the house. Wish I had mentioned Tom Cruise instead of the darn froggie, you never know...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Joka Diary - 2

Before I begin my routine ramble, a word of caution. I am not over the top about studying or living in Joka. Nothing can be farther from truth, I still have nagging doubts at the back of my mind on whether the juice is worth the squeeze. I write about it because I have nothing else to write about, unless I start writing about accounting principles or organisational behaviour. And in the first place, I write because writing makes me feel connected to the life I have been used to. This blog looks familiar unlike the scary books, and posting here is something I can do without banging my head against any of the reference books, most unlike my assignments.

Now that we are clear on that, let me tell you about my newly developed self-awareness. Not in the human behaviour fashion though. I never knew I could be so thrilled about cleanliness. Having been a messy person all my life, I had all plans in place for continuing to be the same. However, I have outdone myself. My place is as spic and span as could be. I skip prescribed pre-reading to tidy up my place before I leave for the classes. And when I return from college, I again reorganise my stuff before thinking of anything else. I think it is primarily because I am scared to open the books or attempt assignments and hence seek solace in cleaning which also gives me a reason to defer studies. But I also feel that it is so much more manageable here. 15 minutes a day is sufficient to keep my stuff in order. In Bangalore, it took me more time than that to just pick Pari's toys which were always, always strewn around the house. Also, there were an array of other pressing issues, like preparing dinner or feeding the child. Here I have just myself to attend, and even my food is provided for. That I have to walk for almost 15 min for every meal is a different matter. All in all, I am really enjoying this organised, house-proud phase of my life.

On a slightly different note, the feminist in me was mighty pleased yesterday. The entire day saw a set of very competent women profs taking classes, for a batch of 44 out of which 5 are women(not bad, eh?), and 2 women co-ordinating the course.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Joka Diary - 1

Today was the first day of regular studies, and I am already buried under a truckload of pending tasks. I guess that makes it just a regular day in Joka, nothing really worth writing home about. What made it special for me was the splitting headache I had post-lunch. Given the frequency of my head-aches and the important part they play in my life, the first one here is definitely worth a mention. I am rather used to them, and have my Dispirins and Saridons all in the right place. What really hurt today was not having a 4 yr old to fuss over me with her doctor set, asking to be snubbed. And an extremely caring, loving and somewhat old man trying his best to make me comfortable, simultaneously attempting to root cause my headache and getting on my frayed nerves in the process. I can be cruel, especially during migraine attacks. And I guess this loneliness serves me right.. I have totally earned it. Now that the head has taken a drinks break from throbbing, let me try getting some sleep before it makes a hasty retreat. Good night!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Logging in from Joka..

Yes, I have moved to Calcutta for an year to pursue an MBA course. Today was the first day of the session, and I managed to miss the first lecture. The Dean knows me really well now, as does the rest of the class because of the this unique achievement. Talk about making an impression! I sincerely hope things will not be this exciting for the rest of the year. However, the year ahead does appear challenging and I would like it to be just that. We have the next class in less than an hour, and my lovely classmate has pointed out the 200 page reading that is required before we enter the class. I am not doing it. You see, the husband has just left to catch his train to Delhi, and I would rather sulk over it. The man has been really helpful since we landed in Joka, and I am not regretting marrying him.. not for the next couple of days at least. By then, he would definitely put me off by not calling me or even answering my calls, as is the usual thing with him. On the other hand, my women classmates look nice and helpful, and I hope I will be able to get along well with them. My experience with girls has almost always been wonderful, and even the declared-by-public nasty ones have been nice with me. Husband says it is because I have never stayed in a hostel. I don't think hostel life is going to change that but I believe you must never say never, unless you want your foot to be growing from the same mouth that uttered 'never'. So lets just wait and watch.

I think this post is as incoherent as it can get, an indication of the times to come. We need your best wishes -- me, husband and most of all my little Pari to get through the year unscathed. Please keep us in your thoughts. I hope to post updates from Joka whenever time permits and visit your lovely blogs once in a while. Both of these might not be as frequent, so take care and stay good!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Good bye Bangalore!

Its been around 2 days since I left Bangalore, and I am already missing it like hell. The thought that I might not go back there ever is killing me, and I am probably as miserable as I was when I left Allahabad for good. Bangalore was the only other home known to me. For all I know, I would have missed it even if I were shifting to Allahabad, the stuff that my dreams are spun of. As of now, I am going to a strange city among strange people to do something I have absolutely no clue about.. big consolation indeed! And for this noble cause, I have given up my home of 5 yrs, my husband of 5 yrs & best-friend of another 2 yrs, my daughter and lifeline of 4 yrs, all friends made over the last 8 yrs and my workplace of over 3 yrs. Most of it has obvious impact, except for the workplace which is why I need to elaborate on it. I loved my workplace, and it loved me right back. I did not make great career strides here, probably the most relaxed phase of my career till now, but it did allow me to balance my personal life and work without guilt. My daughter grew for an infant to a confident little girl during this time, and I cannot be any less grateful for that. Also, I met some amazing people here and forged bonds for life. To top it all, I was due for a considerable hike and a promotion. Tell me, which woman in her right mind would give up such a job? I did.

Time for thoughts on Bangalore. I love the city, the people and the culture. Unlike most people from north, who find everything wrong with the southern part, and like-minded southerners who look down on north, I really like Bangalore. And I know the city better than Allahabad, what with changing 5 houses and 5 companies. Also, I was a homing pigeon in Alld, content sitting at home by my window, reading and dreaming, secure in the warmth of my loving family. Bangalore was where I grew up from a naive young girl to an independent woman. It is here that I fell in love, got married, had a child and graduated from being a daughter to a mother. It is here that I learnt self-reliance away from my protective parents, and learnt to take care of myself, well almost. Taking care of myself meant marrying the man who took care of me, and then leaving it all to him.

Leaving a city that means so much to you is never easy, much less for a person who tends to get attached to stuff like me. I feel uprooted, and bruised. I feel disorientated and lonely. I want to cry my heart out, bawl my head off. It might be another week before I get to do that. For now, I just hope we win the world cup today. It might serve as a temporary distraction and save me at least some disappointment.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Annual Day - First vs Second

[Warning: Long post, non-parents and disinterested men - please excuse!]

Pari had her Annual Day last Saturday, and as is the norm in this house, the parents were over-excited and hyper-ventilating while the child was calm and contained like a seasoned zen-practitioner. Since her last annual day is also so fresh in memory, mostly due to repeated watchings of the recording, a comparison seems inevitable. I had not done a post on that one owing to severe disappointment and a major heartbreak, and this looks like an opportune time to reflect on that as well.

To begin with, last year was Pari's first year in the montessori, and there was no dress code for her. This was a real sticky situation to be in because it meant that we could dress her up just anyway we wished and hence triggered a mad rush for the best possible dress. My heart was set on dressing her in a white satin and net frock, similar to one she had as a baby. Yes, I am superficial like that. We spent 2 long evenings checking out almost every shop of repute that stocked children's apparel, but couldn't find anything even close to what we had in mind. Pari ended up wearing a dress that was already part of her wardrobe. This year, she is among the older lot and was instructed to wear black tights with a plain, bright-coloured t-shirt without any logo or design. This wasn't easy either. With a reasonable effort we could get tights in her size but the shirt was very very difficut to find, specially because her size is so small. To cut a very long story short, we went to almost 40 shops over 3 days and couldn't find an absolutely plain T for her. Finally settled down for a UCB collared T, with the logo in silver. Thankfully they make their logos small and so it wasn't very conspicous.

The following noteworthy conversation happened during the marathon shopping session-

On entering the mall
Pari: Mumma, the smell of french fries is coming.
Me: Hmm.. okie. I'll buy you some. (Get her FF.)

As we enter a huge store
Pari: Mumma, the smell of toys is coming.
Me: ???

I don't know what toys smell like, but Pari sure has a sharp nose. The other day, I gave her khichdi, she remarked - Mumma, this is yummy. It smells of so much ghee.

So much for the deviation.. Pari defined 'Pink Saree' as the dress code for mumma, and mumma complied with it very sincerely. Papa was free to wear anything he fancied, who looks at men anyways and even a child as young as Pari knows it. I woke up on the D day with a stiff body, probably because of the anxiety. I remember similar symptoms before the annual day last year too. Flashback begins - Pari would repeat what looked like the script of some children's play, sing multiple songs with some random dance, get into yoga positions and all such things. We were happy to believe that she is participating in a big way. However, on the annual day, all she did was recite some nursery rhymes. Immediately after the rhymes got over, the Principal said - 'Now all the babies come over here', and she very gracefully obliged by moving to a corner with some 10 other tiny tots. The rest of the 1 hr program was taken forward by the older children. Disappointment is a mild word to describe what we felt. And during the course of the program, we realised she had been mouthing lines from the play meant for older children. Flashback Over!

This time around, Pari was actually part of almost all the activities. She is a big child now and the school knows it. She was part of the initial prayers, Yoga demonstration, and danced to Anjaana-Anjaani song with rehearsed actions. In fact, after the program, a couple of moms actually came over to say that she dances well! I think it was really kind of them to observe that, I being a mean mean mom, had eyes only for Pari. Actually I was capturing her on reel and had to zoom in to figure her out well. She is still tiny compared to the other children, and easy to loose in a group performance. And then there was the Gruffalow play. She played a snake there, trying to prey on a mouse. It was hilarious in more ways than one. Since the mouse was the central creature with lots of lines to remember and blurt out, it was played by a child in UKG. All the children playing predators to the mouse, like the owl, snake and such were actually nursery kids, half the size of the mouse. And just before the play began, the Principal came over and instructed the children to just say their lines, and not the other child's. That was some comic relief.

We returned home a very happy and proud family. Husband immediately sat down to finalize the DVD, so that copies could be made and distributed to anxious grandparents, aunts and uncles of the child. He kept the handycam for finalization on the dining table and sternly warned Pari and me to keep off the table lest we shake the handycam, only to bump into it himself seconds later. The copying got interrupted and we had to restart it. Once it was done, we played it in the DVD player only to realise that the DVD wasn't working. I started screaming at the poor man for spoiling my child's annual day recording. You see, I had not enjoyed her performance live because I was so keen on preserving it for posterity. And he had spoiled it all by bumping in the table and shaking the handycam. In his defence, the husband suggested that probably the DVD player is not working. How I hoped this would be the case! However, it did not play on his laptop as well. The happy family turned into a warring family and lot of melodrama ensued. Luckily, my laptop could play it, and saved us from an imminent divorce.

PS. Whoever has shown the courage to go through this mammoth post, will be rewarded with the pics of the Annual day in the next post, hopefully!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

It is official now..

..the husband-man is cheating on me. Trust me, it was in the newspapers today. The highly-dependable Times of India has duly reported that a mole on the right cheek indicates a cheating husband. Ironically, it is not even the poor man's fault. I mean I have always had that mole on my right cheek, so no matter who I marry, the person is bound to cheat on me. Even if my old man were born an epitome of virtue and loyalty, he automatically transformed into a womaniser the day of the wedding, such is the power of the mole. What really amazes me is that the morphing happened in such a subtle fashion that even a smart girl like yours truly took 5 long years to realise it. Anyways, now that I know it for a fact that the man's crooked, I am leaving no stone unturned to uncover his misdemeanors. And considering that the effort started only around 10 am this morning, after I read the newspaper and finished my breakfast, I am rather proud of my progress so far, proud enough to share it with you here-

1. The man has always been very supportive of my travelling for work/study/fun. Immediately after the alliance, he insisted that I go for an onsite assignment. When I turned it down, he made arrangements for his own travel and flew to the US for almost 3 months, no less! Currently, he is pushing me for an MBA, though I am not willing to take the risk in view of the recent discovery.

2. He can never remember important dates, not even the anniversary when we are together.. however, once away he sends me the most clichéd gifts on all our special occasions and otherwise without miss. And poor me, I always thought it is in tune with the adage 'distance makes the heart grow fonder'. Now I know, the gifts are driven by guilt rather than affection.

3. He doesn't call me, like ever once he steps out of the house. It is anybody's guess as to what keeps him 'busy'.

4. And last but not the least, reverse psychology. Sample this incident from last night - our car is covered in layers of dust. On the window pane, some one wrote a love note replete with a heart struck by the cupid's arrow, all in the dust. Before I could even question him about it, the spouse comes and insists that someone wrote it for me. 'For me'-- of all the people?? It is easier to believe that it was written for the car itself. Innocent me falls for the ploy, gets distracted and defensive, while the old man has a good laugh.

Finally, if all of the above falls short in implicating the husband, I still have the mole for proof!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

लोग घर छोड़ कर जाते हैं और तमाम ज़िन्दगी अमेरिका, ऑस्ट्रेलिया और यूरोप में काट देते हैं। जाने कैसे? मेरे ९५% के लगभग जानने वाले बारहवी जमात के बाद जो घर से निकले तो फिर वापस पलट कर न आ सकें। मुझे भी घर छोड़े तकरीबन साढ़े सात बरस हो गए हैं लेकिन आज भी अक्सर आँख लगती है और मैं वापस इलाहाबाद की गलियों में घूमने लगती हूँ। बचपन एक साये की तरह सर पर घूमता है और लड़कपन फ़िर अंगड़ाई लेने लगता है। पिछला दशक कहीं तो खो जाता है और मैं फिर वही १९ साल की किशोरी बन जाती हूँ, अपनी ४ साल की बेटी, ५ साल की शादी, ७ साल की नौकरी, रुपया- पैसा, आर्थिक उत्थान, सामाजिक उन्नति और आत्मिक पतन सब भूल कर अपने पैतृक गृह की छत पर खड़ी हो जाती हूँ, बादलों को देखती और उनके फूटने का इंतज़ार करती। ज़िन्दगी बहुत आगे बढ़ गयी है, शायद इतनी तेज़ी से कि मेरा सुस्त दिमाग़ उसके साथ कदम नहीं मिला पाया, उसकी तरक्की को रजिस्टर ही नहीं कर पाया। ऐसा लगता है की मेरी काया तो साथ आई लेकिन आत्मा वहीँ जम गयी और पीछे ही कहीं छूट गयी है। कितनी ही बार होता है कि सो कर उठती हूँ और बिलकुल भौचक्की हो जाती हूँ कि कहाँ हूँ और यहाँ कैसे पहुंच गयी। आज भी ऐसा ही हुआ, और इस हद तक कि फ़िर से आँखें मूंदने में डर लगने लगा। हम जल्दी ही इस शहर से भी जाने वाले हैं, और मेरी सबसे बड़ी चिंता यहीं है कि फ़िर से दिमाग़ को रिसेट कैसे करूंगी।

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

5 years today..

धन से न दुनिया से

घर से न द्वार से

साँसों की डोर बंधी है

प्रीतम के प्यार से

दुनिया छूटे पर न टूटे

ये कैसा बंधन है..

It is five years today since we entered the aforementioned 'Bandhan'! The occasion demands a mushy post, but I'll rather spare the torture. I would just stick to doing what I do the best- 'plagiarize' and put it elegantly-- 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of credulity...'. Now that I have 2 writers turning in their graves already, let me conclude the post with some original stuff.

I have no clue as to why I like this particular picture so much, we both are looking quite awkward in it. Still, the fondness is probably because we are genuinely smiling in this one, unlike the zillion other pics where we had to fake as many smiles for the pushy photographers.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pari strikes again!

I have been struggling with this desperate urge to blog for quite some time now, but things have been slightly busy at my end and my love for procrastination is no secret either. Moreover, I make a conscious effort to keep my blog happy, as in I try not to write if I am depressed or suicidal or 'divorcal'(is there a word for the urge to divorce??). I have two teenage sisters who follow the blog, and that is enough reason for me to keep it clean and not write anything that could potentially put them off marriage/children/middle-age.. Besides, I might be hunting matches for them in a few years from now, and it is absolutely necessary that the family believes that I am good at finding a match!

So much for not writing, now we come to the reasons for writing at this odd hour. I am mature enough to know that my not-blogging is no great loss to the blogging community. However, to me it is.. especially because Pari is back and churning out gems by the hour, and with my memory, I forget most of them the following hour. And it is a bigger loss to the father who will miss it entirely. Yes, the spouse is travelling for work to Noida and being a man of principles, he doesn't call me, like ever, from office(work-ethics), transit(traffic-rules) or home(family-time, he is staying with the IL's). And so he has no inkling as to what goes on in the household. However, the presence of the child, and the continued absence of the only maid that I had (Yes, I have 'NO DOMESTIC HELP' for the last 1 month) ensures that I have no time to even find out if the man’s indifference can serve as valid ground for a divorce. And if you think life couldn't get more interesting, the LPG got over and we spent 4 full days without a stove. The child, she refuses to eat anything except French fries outside the house, and demands milk 3 times a day in addition to her usual dal-rice. I went crazy trying to cook dal in the microwave, and running around with milk bottles begging people to boil the milk. On the positive side, I think I can expect a call from Survivor any day now.

Now the nice part, Pari has been entirely unpredictable since her return from Allahabad. My mom has indulged her heavily, and it shows in her behaviour. She took instant dislike to my not-so-flexible management and said the meanest things I have ever heard her say. I was truly crest-fallen and seriously contemplated having a second child, as the fall back 'budhape ka sahara'. Once she learns to read, Pari might hate me for putting it all here, but I would still share the two most shocking instances.

1. I go to the neighbour's house on some errand, and return in around 1/2 an hour after some invigorating gossip. I come back and ring the bell. Wait.. and again ring the bell. Now, I can clearly hear some argument behind the closed door between Pari and Papa, and assume that probably Pari wants to open the door for me. She likes doing that, at least she liked it before she went to Allahabad. Finally the door is opened by the husband, and Pari is sulking in the corner.
Me: Why didn't you let her open the door? Now, she is upset.
Husband: No, she didn't want to open the door. She is upset because I let you in. She was stopping me from opening the door, saying -'Don't open the door. Let Mumma stay outside.'

2. We are having dinner when I suddenly get hiccups. Even before the husband could notice, Pari screams -'Don't give her water. Let her have hiccups.'
Tell me if that isn't mean, what is?

Anyways, the husband left for Noida soon after, and you should see how this girl turned over a new leaf. She waited for Papa to return for a couple of days, and even cried for him. However, once it became clear to her that Papa is not returning anytime soon, and Mumma is who she has to make do with, she switched on her best behaviour. I mean, I'll just quote her here, these are some of the things she actually said to me-

1. Mumma, I can never be sad with you. I love you, and I will buy a lot of things for you.
2. You are so sweet Mumma! I am your daughter and all my things belong to you.(Of course they do, I bought them with my own money!)
3. Why doesn't the maid come? She is a lazy woman. My mumma has to wash utensils. I will help you mumma when I grow big.(I ask her when will she be big, and she says - Wait mumma, I am growing slowly!)

And such cheesy stuff. She is kissing me at the rate of 5 per minute, and if I happen to move, the ground that I had been standing on is smothered with affection. Sending her to the school and daycare is a cakewalk. If I just record her conduct for a day and sell it as an educational DVD, I am sure parents will queue up for a copy, just to show their wards how nice 4 yr olds can be.

For me, I am just happy to have my baby back, and glad that we are bonding big time. Though I am sure, things will not be the same once the father is back. But for now, I am basking in the glory of motherhood, and Pari keeps me sufficiently entertained. I am taking her down for cycling almost every other day and we go for long walks, where she provides me with useful insights on the world. Like when we came across a puddle, she pointed it out to me, 'Look mumma, a well. Do you know what a well is? It is a big hole and it is filled with water.' And then, there was little rise in the footpath, where it covered the drain to which she said -'Can I cross this bridge?' Thankfully, the official definition of bridge was not offered. At times, when I help her write, she says, 'Mumma you have become my teacher. You are my mumma and also my teacher.' However, the one that I liked the best was when I drove her to a restaurant - 'You have become a driver, but I still love you Mumma..' Thank you my child, I am so honoured!