I think, therefore I write

Tag: Life (Page 1 of 15)

A tale of two houses

For many years now, it has been my dream to buy a bigger, better place to live in. Most of it stemmed from the fact that there were a lot of restrictions for me when I bought my first flat and I was neck deep in many other things to do it properly. Not to mention the fact that I was just starting out and lacked experience in building a dream home. A few years and a kid down the lane, I decided that as much as our flat was a great first home, it was not going to be my last.

So when the timing was right, we started house hunting. We just started looking casually and decided to get serious when we had options worth considering. I am unsure whether to call it luck, but soon enough, we stumbled upon some good candidates for our dream home. This post is about two of those which made the cut but were so starkly different that we could not make up our mind for a long time. One was a 3 BHK flat that, was in an apartment society, would let us be first owners, involved relocation, was very far from work. The other was a 3 BHK duplex villa that, was in a gated community, would let us be second owners, was just a stone’s throw from our current place and hence would be near to work.

To make things interesting, I had a history with the 3 BHK flat. Many years back, I had attended the house warming ceremony of a relative and had fallen in love with the flat. I loved that it was spacious, a layout that allowed me to imagine my dream home. You could call it love at first sight and I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that my dream to a better home was conceived there. When I started dreaming about a bigger and better place more often, the image of a dream home was one similar to that flat.

Years had passed and I didn’t think any new flat would be available for sale in that society but I still checked with our relatives about it when we started our house hunting. Much to our surprise, one last flat was available and it met all our requirements. The problem was that I hadn’t seriously considered about the distance from work, the connectivity to various parts of the city and the relocation involved. Like I said, it was love at first sight. Not much thinking was involved :). We tried searching for a similar flat in our preferred locality but in vain. Either we didn’t like the flat or the price was too high for its worth. So we started mentally preparing ourselves to deal with the distance from work and relocation logistics to take the deal forward with this flat.

But we were dealt a different set of cards. Every attempt we made to purchase that flat was thwarted by destiny. Either the seller was going after another purchaser or he changed his mind about the price or he wad not responsive to our interest in the house. Adit was able to accept that maybe it was not meant to be but I couldn’t let it go. I felt like I had not given my best effort as we were yet to receive a straight and strong NO. It felt like it was doable but slightly out of reach. I felt that I am yet to give my best shot before ceding.

While we were making these attempts, the lead for the villa opened up. I will be honest – I had difficulty falling in love with the villa like I did with the flat. Of course, the flat had a couple years to its credit as I had spent some time dreaming about it. My usual pros and cons list didn’t aid me much because the two options were in very different leagues. The price, the scope of renovation, the independence, the design of the house, the locality – everything was so starkly different that we couldn’t draw up a fair comparison between the two to choose one over the other. So we let the threads run in parallel hoping that when it comes to the wire, we would be able to choose.

Maybe our dilemma was too much for the universe that it intervened. Every time we would make a move forward with the flat, something happened to make us consider the villa. Every time we hit a hurdle with the villa deal, I used to pursue the flat because that’s where my heart still was. Adit warned me to take it slow and not to get caught up in it but I couldn’t help myself. However, every move of mine towards the flat triggered something and the universe pulled me back to the villa by offering an advantage that was not there before. It happened so many times that it would have been hilarious if I were not so close to the problem. And then finally, both were available to us if we wanted it and we had to decide. Adit was confused as well but he was able to look at it objectively. I had trouble doing the same. Even if one of us decided one way, we gave enough weightage to the other’s vote that the original decision was scraped. Eventually we chose to be practical and decided on the villa together. Traveling long distances to work is not something Bangalore dwellers can take lightly.

I believe in karma and destiny to some extent – more in the former than in the latter. This entire experience was about the pull of destiny for me. I had sleepless nights, shed many tears out of frustration, and cursed myself for nurturing such a dream that took every bit of mental and physical strength that I had. However, I understand that when I do build that dream home of mine and move into it, I know it will all feel worth the hassle. I am definitely grateful for the experience. There is a mound of work in the form of renovation, fixes waiting for me and there is a race track full of hurdles for me to reach that sweet spot of living comfortably in my dream home, but I am grateful that I have learnt a lot and that I was resilient in pursuing this dream. Also, I am incredibly grateful for the privilege to be able to consider building a dream home, a second time.

On a side note, at some point when it felt like we were going ahead with the flat, we stumbled upon a website that lets you build a 3D model of your house based on the floor plan. I didn’t think I had it in me to do it but I built the flat in 3D using it and learned a lot in the process. Ironically enough, I didn’t do it for the villa even when the deal was done. Maybe I will try it in the process of renovation. Anyway, the 3D modeling of the flat was fun and it warrants a separate post. I will write about it in a sequel of sorts.

Until later 🙂

Surreal

Aditi is already 3.5 years old. Where did the time go? I feel like I was just holding her in my arms, trying to squeeze my little finger into her closed fist.

It’s been more than a year since the pandemic started. It feels much much longer that we are living with shut doors, masked faces, and a handwashing or sanitizing habit that we will never forget for eons to come.

I am on a team meeting with my colleague. I suppose he has a 2 screen setup. He looks out at me from the side screen, while I look at the side view of his face. Such a thing would have caused a real mayhem with my parents, who have not taken to technology kindly. But virtual meetings, toggling video, mute/unmute have become muscle memory now for us.

Aditi already knows how to handle her online classes. The only surprise for me is her level of interest in it. It was a pleasant shock to see her more interested in the online classes than her parents. She knows how to mute and unmute as needed, switch on and off her video for breaks, and leave the zoom meeting after the class is over. 2 months into it and she technically doesn’t need me for the logistics!!

My 1 year old niece knows me as her aunt whose face appears on her dad’s phone every Saturday. She still smiles at me with so much joy as if she has known me in person for a long time. She doesn’t give up trying to catch me or give something to me through the phone either.

A friend’s birthday came up and everyone in the WhatsApp group realized it’s been 14 long years since the day when we took the picture that is our WhatsApp group icon. 14 years and the occasional pings on the group and some isolated meets here and there.

The iconic skywalk that was synonymous of our college’s fame is being removed now and I couldn’t imagine the place without it. Then I realized that it’s been 11 years since I passed out and I haven’t stepped foot in my alma matter yet! I am appalled.

So many surreal experiences, so little time to process them!

Until later 🙂

Hope

Hope – a funny thing, enables you to go on when things are at their worst. But also disappoints when you keep clinging on to it but things don’t go your way for a long time. I have often pondered if holding on to hope is worth all the hype. However, the option is to just give up and then.. there is nothing else to do. Perhaps, that’s why I always choose hope in any situation, however hard it is.

This year started out fine and the first half of the year actually had me hoping for better things and a brighter life than 2020. Unfortunately, it was not to be. The tide turned for the worse in May 2021 and the following months were some of the darkest ones I had to endure in life. My husband’s health issues and us being alone in Bangalore with a toddler amidst the pandemic were enough to send our roller coaster out of control and things started spiraling quickly.

With humungous effort and strength, I had to make a few hard decisions. I wouldn’t say that everything is resolved now. If I am honest, I can only say that things are going on. That’s about it. Every day passes by in a haze of habitual activities without any real conviction.

At first glance, I can only look at the negatives:

*Hubby’s health is still a worry.

*Relationship with in-laws at its worst. There was not much to work with and it’s become clear that that bridge is burnt for a long while now.

*My daughter is in a phase where she needs a lot of attention and I doubt if I am giving all the love and attention that she deserves.

*There’s no clarity about when we will be able to return to our place in Bangalore and think about a normal routine.

*I am not sure what to decide about retaining our babysitter without availing her services or to relieve her so that she can make other plans for her stable income.

*I haven’t cooked properly in 2 months. I was finally getting to enjoy cooking but at my mom’s place, things are a lot difficult for me to cook. I don’t want to mess my mom’s kitchen quoting my ways. But it just isn’t comfortable to take interest and cook here. So I just let my mom cook and help her with the other chores.

*My grandmother lives with us here and it is getting more difficult for us to take care of her, with her health and memory issues. She is getting worse with her episodes and it is taking a toll on my mother, who is a primary care-giver for her.

Basically, my usual life is put on pause and the resume button is nowhere near to sight. It might seem like a trivial thing to crib about but for someone who is handling as much as I do, for as long as I have, I don’t think it is trivial.

Despite all this, I try to force my mind back to the present every day. As soon as I wake up, I try to tell myself that it is a new day. It has the possibility to bring a positive change. I tell myself that I can think of something, anything that can improve my mood for the day and get excited about it. I practice mindfulness meditation for a while, do my chores, get immersed in office work (something that distracts me positively from all my other worries), spend as much time as possible with my daughter so that her joy and innocence rubs on me as well. I tell myself that if it is rock bottom, the only way from here is up. If it is not, well, it is bound to hit rock bottom soon and then the only way from there is up. All this shows that I still have hope, even if it is the last smidgen that I managed to scrape for the day.

So here I am, trying to end this post on a positive note, trying to make space for gratitude in a life that seems to be full of things devoid of the same thing. Here goes my gratitude list for the month of August:

*Glad to have met my childhood friend and her kid after 7 long years. We just did not have enough time to catch up.

*Glad that I don’t have to brave Bangalore’s unpredictable weather and be afraid every time someone at home sneezes or coughs.

*Glad that my daughter, oblivious to the problems of being an adult, is enjoying herself at her grandparents’ place. She is enjoying virtual school more than I expected, enjoying time with my parents for a longer time than it usually would be, and getting to taste all of my mom’s delicacies.

*Glad that I was able to go out and dine at a couple of my favorite haunts recently. It made me feel like the world is normal for a brief time.

*Glad for the help that I got during a tough time. It might not be unconditional. It might not be ideal but it is there.

With that gratitude list, I am going to carry hope as a beacon for as long as I can and go in search of my life’s pieces. I hope to make sense of the pieces eventually and put them back together.

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 🙂

STP levels during the pandemic

Craziness – Fluctuating between low and high, hitting all levels on the way
OCD – Dialing down to tolerant levels
Gratefulness – Wildly fluctuating between medium and very high
Optimism – All time low
Letting go – Slowly inching towards medium
Happiness – Satisfactory
Fear – Always present, brushed to the one corner
Focus – Out the window
Operational mode – Do the bare minimum to keep it going
Energy – Starts at about 60% in the morning and ends at -80% at bedtime. No time to recharge until 100%.

Until later 🙂

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