I think, therefore I write

Category: LIFE HAPPENS (Page 1 of 24)

Too good to be true

I have always believed that when something is too good to be true, it probably is. That’s the reason I approach seasonal offers, giveaways, and the like with a sense of wariness. However, I fell long and hard in one experience. I had hired a domestic help when I moved to our new home back in 2015.

It was my first experience as an employer and I didn’t know the nuances of being the boss for a domestic help. I decided to just be compassionate and honest with my expectations. It seemed to be working fine and despite my neighbors having issues with the same maid, I didn’t have much to complain other than the occasional issue of her taking off on many days without informing. I took it in my stride and just warned her to inform me when she takes off. I have almost never cut her pay, have given her an advance on her payment whenever she needed it for her family, even loaned her a significant amount when she claimed that her son had met with an accident and she needed money for hospital expenses. I never gave her extra work, was sympathetic when she was ill etc. Overall, we had a very cordial employer-employee relationship.

Over a period of time, I noticed her dropping work from other houses and expected her to do the same with us as she had gotten a big contract of cleaning the corridors of the entire apartment. I understood that it would get her the salary she needed in one go, without having to go to 7-8 houses and build up her salary. It also meant intense effort for 2-3 hours of her day but after that she gets the entire day off. So I expected her to tell me that she cannot continue working for me and had resigned to the fact that I had to get another maid. I was also a bit sad because she was the best at what she did. She used to wash the vessels sparkling clean and she cleaned every corner of the house she could reach. While many of friends kept cribbing about the quality of work that their househelps did, I considered myself lucky to have found someone who cleaned the place better than I could. In any case, she never dropped the work at my place and I assumed that it was because she found it easy enough to complete along with the apartment cleaning work and also because I was never very strict with her in terms of leave and other issues.

I should have known better. What I didn’t know was that she was maintaining a very calm and low profile with me and probably took extra effort to keep me impressed (this is my guess, could be wrong) while she was skimming money from us. We had found ourselves second guessing that we had less money in our wallets but assumed that we had missed monitoring our expenses. This last month, we had started logging our expenses to the penny and when we found ourselves in the same position for more than 3 times in a row, we knew something was amiss. What followed was a cat and mouse game and eventually I gathered evidence, confronted, and fired her. When I spoke to my neighbors, I learnt that she had done similar things in other houses and got fired from there.

Now, I don’t know how long she has been stealing from me – was it recent or was I a fool all these years but I am glad that it came to an end. And now I understood that there are other things to look for other than the quality of the work. For the past week, I felt so enraged that I was such a fool to have trusted her. But there is no point in crying now when it was really my mistake to have done so. So in all aspects of life, when something is too good to be true, it is.

Until later 🙂

Little things that matter

After the year that was 2020, we didn’t have much plans or hope for 2021. We didn’t plan to break out of our shell anytime soon. But, having a toddler at home and the nanny on leave, Bangalore’s December drove us to different decisions and destinations. After a week’s failed attempt at handling things ourselves, we accepted defeat and ran to our hometown where our parents live.

Amidst the fear and initial shock of the outside world, we were forced to come to terms with the fact that we can only be cautious but cannot force anyone else to follow any form of social distancing or precautions. I agree that we were living on one extreme, not without reason though, and the majority of the world around us was on the other extreme. So this homecoming served as a balancer for us. After a fortnight there and visiting our families there, we came back to Bangalore but I still didn’t feel the pang as my mom came along with us. The plan was that she’d stay for a month. So altogether, we were out of our usual routine for a month and a half. Where did all that time go? Sigh!

After coming back to Bangalore, we were desensitized enough to venture out on our terms with necessary precautions. Our toddler started on the infamous terrible 3s this year and we realized that even if we wanted to, we could not keep her cooped up any longer. When back in Bangalore, she was in her territory and unveiled all of her super powers of throwing a tantrum and melting down, just because she can. On the upside, she had immensely enjoyed the trip – visiting her grandparents’ places, being the center of everyone’s attention, getting to know things outside of the 4 walls that we call home.

After a month that whizzed by, today, my mom left for her place, routine, and life. This time, I did take part in the chores unlike most other times of her visit, when I let down totally and chill. Still, she has such an impact that getting back to the grind hits hard. More than the chores, it is the feeling of being responsible and being a grown-up. Being the pivot of the family at all times. I don’t know how she does it. When she is around, irrespective of how much work I do, she is the pivot. Man, is this how she felt around her mother, whom she lost last year? She never explicitly conveyed the pain of losing her mother and just accepted the fact that her 97-year-old mother’s time to rest in peace had come. But I can understand how the realization, that you don’t have that one person who was your pivot, could be.

It is in the small things that we take for granted – switching off the lights when you forget, ensuring the breakfast is fresh and hot, making sure the bath water is just right for my daughter when she comes back from the playground, keeping my daughter’s attention so that I can cook or attend a office meeting in peace. And more that are so part of the routine, yet sometimes, I’d have to sacrifice and adjust if it is not right. You wouldn’t feel it when it is being taken care of, by someone. It hits you when you are the person who is responsible for each of these and more. I don’t know when I get to visit her place or she can plan to come to our place again . But I know it will be a while to get used to the longing in me and get going. I have a hard time being the grown-up. I do it because I have to but it does not come naturally to me. I often wonder why or how I am not as selfless or as responsible as my mom. I don’t know the answer but I do know this – I can be my own person, I can learn from my mom and I can strive to be the best for my daughter.

Until later 🙂

A parent’s anguish

My almost-3-yr-old has been extremely cooperative and understanding of the situation considering her age, what with us being holed indoors. I try to be positive but as days turned into months which could now turn into years, there are times when worry eats me. The worry is mostly for my family, with an at risk husband and a toddler whose life seems to have been turned upside down. She does not know it but I do. And on bad days, the knowledge of what should have been and the memories of what were, breaks my heart.

My heart breaks into countless pieces,
When I see you holed inside these 4 walls,
You are peeping out the window,
Achingly looking at the playground,
That was your second home until a few months ago.
You don’t understand what changed and why,
All you know is that there is something out there,
Some call it corona, some call it the virus,
You get that it is something scary,
Something you don’t want to catch,
And that’s why you can’t go out.
Even the few occasions you stepped out for a walk,
With your Amma and Appa, you wore a mask,
You wore it with enthusiasm, the new cool thing for you,
You thought you were part of a grown up ritual and exulted,
Little did you know of my anguish at that sight,
Of you having to wear a mask to stay healthy and probably to stay alive.
At your age, you hardly remember a world before and after,
For you, what you see is what you get.
Hold on tight, my baby, for hope is the only thing keeping us going,
Hold on tight, to us, your parents who seem to be the world for you now,
To the vague memories of going out to that restaurant or mall,
To those memories of your birthday celebrations that just escaped the clutches of this pandemic,
To those dreams of going to your first school and playing with new friends,
Just hold on tight, let’s hope, this too shall pass.
Just so that I don’t break,
Let me believe in miracles, and
That the world will be yours again to explore.

Until later 🙁

Inexplicable

When it comes to social skills, I am kind of stuck in between an introvert and an extrovert. I would want to be a social person but I cannot be the kind who initiates a conversation or keeps it going for the most part – I would require the other person also to be equally talkative or sometimes, more talkative than me. This may be the reason for me not being able to keep in touch with my school and college friends. In addition to moving through the gears of time and life, the distance between me and my friends robbed me of my comfort zone and I let it slip away. I didn’t feel much of the pang because I got married to my childhood sweetheart – I had him, forever with me, to reminisce. So life just went on.

All this changed, oh so suddenly, when I stumbled upon a couple of my school friends Facebook profiles and messages. I wanted to talk to them but was skeptical if they would feel the same, after all these contact-less years. Nevertheless, I started talking to a couple of them and we started a Whatsapp group – all the while wondering if others will feel comfortable connecting after such a long time. How would everyone react? Will they be as involved and interested?

As for my tingling doubts about people’s reactions, boy, was I wrong! Everyone connected and pulled in more people seamlessly. We could get in touch with almost everyone in 2 days and our group flooded with messages. So much so that all of us were stuck to our mobiles through day and night. The emotions, excitement and joy was almost tangible even though we were only texting. For once, I believed technology and social media has done something useful, in creating as much joy and happiness in a bunch of people, especially during this hopeless time of a pandemic.

In less than a week, we planned and met virtually over a conference call with our families. We had just planned a trial run to see if we can find a suitable time for a real one. But again, almost everyone made it and the reactions on our faces said everything. Amidst talking over each other, talking at the same time, catching up on each other’s lives, managing to get our kids to talk and then be quiet, we enjoyed everything. We didn’t even know how the hour went by. There was so much to talk and so little time.

All of us remembered and reminisced about the joyful memories, our teachers, our daily school lives that we led as naive kids. To me, it felt like something that was frozen in time and memory had been thawed by friendship and brought back to life. Such was the feeling – it was truly inexplicable. It’s true what they say, meeting school friends after a long time and feeling nothing really has changed in the friendship is the best feeling. And especially childhood friends, there’s something about them that you cannot replace.

As the hour went by and our family lives pulled us back into each our lives, we bid adieu, with a promise to stay in touch and do this more often. I know we will, for every one of us had felt the pang of missing our friends. And now we know how great it could be, to stay in touch, to feel and connect with our younger selves. And I hope that I could keep this feeling that I fail to express even with writing, close to my heart, and treasure it for as long as possible.

Until later 🙂

The art of cooking

As I have mentioned too many times, I never enjoyed cooking. Up until the last couple months. It always bothered me, given that my mom is an excellent cook and has her roots deep in the art. She does not just cook the regular dishes but also has a lot of specialty dishes to adore her mantle. But surprisingly, when it came to teaching me the art, she never bothered to pressure me into it. She did attempt to pull me into the kitchen for a chore or two, like all mothers do, but she never forced me to learn cooking when I expressed no interest in her favorite chore.

So I spent my growing up years, blissfully eating all that she cooked and never bothered to think about the effort that went behind it. Then I got married. So when I had to run things in the kitchen, I stepped up and got a crash course from my mother to learn to cook the basic things. With Adit having a lot of food restrictions and not being able to eat a whole lot of varieties even if he wanted to, he had attained food nirvana. So my ability or inability to cook tasty food never mattered to him. However, my tongue was not so forgiving – growing up with mom’s cooking and being a foodie, I could never learn to like my cooking. I never thought too much about it and just settled thinking that I can’t cook.

Years went by and I was still the same. Didn’t cook too many things, just the basic ones and the taste was edible but never anything more than that. I would eat out a lot to compromise for my cravings. I actively started to believe that I cannot cook tasty food and that I don’t enjoy cooking and I told myself to be okay with that.

Then something happened. With the Covid pandemic afoot, I had to give up eating out. Plus, I was at home all the time and boredom started getting to me. As icing on the cake, Aditi is someone like me and enjoys a good, tasty meal. So there, I had my perfect opportunity and the perfect audience to set me up to try to cook better. And I am glad that I did. I started trying out a couple random recipes. When they came out surprisingly well, I was encouraged to try more. I started talking to my mom about my experiments and she was so excited that I was able to connect with her in this aspect. She kept sending simple yet tasty recipes my way and I kept trying without any inhibitions.

Over time, I realized I was cooking more dishes every day. The regular menu for Adit with our usual restrictions applied and then a dish that I cooked without any restrictions. But I was enjoying it. I was pleasantly surprised by the feeling and wanted to ride it as long as it lasted. So I started a digital cookbook just for myself and started jotting down recipes. I reached out to my mom and asked her to give me all the traditional recipes she has. Even if I had not tried them all out, I didn’t want them to get lost. I wanted to carry on the legacy and know how to cook them.

Getting the cookbook done was a humongous effort. Although, I had only used a note-taking application to categorize and write down the recipes, it was exhausting. Over the period of 2 months, I managed to get everything I wanted in the cookbook and I can add more as I try stuff out. It felt liberating to know that I can cook well when I have always felt otherwise. Like Adit said, I guess it was all in my mind. I never bothered to try further than it was required. I could have tried something for myself even if he wouldn’t eat it, but I didn’t because I never considered that possibility.

So here’s to an year which was so tough, boring, troublesome, and exhausting that it pushed me to discover something about myself. Here’s to seeing a bad year in a positive light. Hope it gets better from here.

Until later 🙂

« Older posts