Category: Life

Get Milk

D’s trip to a grocery store follows a general pattern –

Me: Can you head to the grocery store? We really need to and I am stuck with xyz right now.
D: Sure, can you make me a cup of tea before I leave?
Me: !!!!
D: OK OK, what do we need to get?
Me: *rattle out a list of things which are everyday grocery list for me* Onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, green chilies, eggs, milk..
D: What? I can’t remember all that! Can you write it down for me?
Me: *rather than argue, I quickly find a paper and pen and write it all down*

20 minutes later the phone rings.

D: I lost the list. I kept it in my pocket but can’t find it. Can you tell me what all I need to get?
Me: *goes over things again*
D: Wait, I can’t remember all this. Let me grab things from the veggi section and call you back!
Me: !!!!

Call after 5 mins

D: Do we need Penuts?
Me: No
D: How about juice?
Me: No
D: Oh oh I see yogurt?
Me: No! we make our own. Can you please stick to the list?

2 or 3 calls later, what is required is bought and paid for and I get a message saying, “Done, heading home!”

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All this is of course when he is going to the grocery store from home. Then there are times when I tell him to get something on his way from work.

6:15 P.M.
Me:  Can you get so and so on your way from work?
D: Sure!
Me: What time are you leaving?
D: 15 mins

6:40 P.M.
Me: Have you left yet?
D: Got stuck. Leaving in 5

7:00 P.M.
D: On my way
Me: Don’t forget to get so and so
D: Yeah!

7:30 P.M.
Garage door opens. The kids run down to greet him. There is general cheer everywhere. And it all comes to a stand still as soon as he sees my face.
D: Oh no! I forgot. I will go now and get it.
Me: Never mind! We will make do without it for today.

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I was out for a run when a car caught my eye. It had something written on the driver side windshield. As it came closer, I looked closely. In bold letters, with a red sharpie, it read – GET MILK!

I had to stop to take in the brilliance of it! It was practical and funny and perfect, all at the same time. Try and forget that one, dear husbands!

 

 

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Matter of heart

Buzz came back from school with an envelope, 3 pages of instructions and talked about heart, jump, donation, puppies. With a lot of things on my mind and emotionally not open to taking in everything she was talking about, I told her we would talk about it in a few days. With a long face, she walked away.

A couple of days later she came back and talked again. The school was hosting an event to support American Heart Institute and the kids were all to jump rope based on the money they collected, to educate about the importance of exercising and keeping the heart healthy. Could I donate some money, so that she could participate? Also there were different stuffed toy puppies that the kids earned based on the amount of money they collected, and she really wanted a couple of those.

I sat her down and explained that the idea behind the money raising drive was not asking parents to give the money. It was about talking to people, raising awareness about heart health and asking them for donate for the cause. Hard hearted mom that I was, I could not make things easy for her and give her money just so that she could get some stuffed toys and participate in the jumping rope activity in school. If she really wanted to do it, she had to do it all. Go talk to people and ask for money. We would donate some as well, but only if she did some work first.

She sat on the idea for a couple of days. Asked questions on how she could raise money. The grocery store, knocking door to door, the mall – ideas we came up with.

We were heading to the grocery store yesterday and she carried her envelope. She said her ‘excuse mes’ as she walked up to someone. Explained what she was doing and asked her question. ‘Could you contribute may be $5?’ She thought it would be easy. With $100 her goal, she did her math and figured all she needed to do was ask 20 people and she would be done. The script of course did not work as planned. A handful of people gave her a dollar or two but mostly all she heard was ‘All the best, but sorry!” After about 30 or so tries, there were tears in her eyes, here voice heavy. I told her I was proud of her for putting herself out there and knew it was not easy to hear ‘no’, but collecting money was not easy either. I asked her to stop and we could try again later. Demoralized we came back home.

Back home as she counted her money, $11.50, D encouraged her and told her that we would match everything she collected. $23 already she finally laughed.

Today after school we went to the mall. ‘There are more people there’, she told me. As I sat with my book, she walked around and made her case. After yesterday’s experience she took nos with a lot more grace. She smiled and thanked people. She talked and made a better case. At one point she spend 10 or so minutes talking to a mom and returned with a huge smile and 65cents in her hand. She jumped with excitement with every amount that she raised. And then when she was tired, she came and said ‘Lets go home Mumma!’

Current count is $54.34. She has also made a deal with D to convert her $4.34 to $5. $55 and matched by us she comes to $110. She couldn’t be more excited. We couldn’t be more proud. She did it on her own. She learned and can say she raised the money. I learned as well and can say, always be kind to kids trying to do something like this, even when you say no for whatever your reasons might be. Kindness goes a long way and the kids remember those more that even the amount of money they get. Buzz definitely talked more about those people than anyone else.

As she takes the money in to school tomorrow, she has to deal with a new challenge. Jump rope 220 times. Wish her luck!

 

Red Saree

Salwar Kameez was your everyday wear. You wore them while cooking, when you dropped us to school, for festivals, even during weddings. Saree was something you wore very very rarely and hence something that was deemed very special in our minds.

I still remember coming home from school, as a first grader, to see you sitting on the dining table chair. You had your red saree on. My immediate question was, “Where did you go?” You laughed and said, “Nowhere.” “Then where are you going?”, I asked. Again you replied, “Nowhere.” My next question was obvious, at least in my head. “Why are you in a saree if you hadn’t been any place and are not going anywhere?”

I don’t remember what your answer was, even though I remember the house, its orientation, the exact chair you were sitting on. But most of all I remember your saree, red with off-white flowers. As a grown up, I now understand that for someone who wore a saree every day, it would be a regular daily wear type of saree, but in my head it was special. With your height, clear complexion and hazel eyes – you looked beautiful in it.

When you stopped wearing it, when others took its place, I don’t remember. What I will always remember is, my first, most vivid memory of you in a saree. Little details, long forgotten, randomly come to me now, and I gather them close to never forget. Some days are hard, sometimes exceedingly so. As much as I try to distract myself, today is one of those.

Four years in a count that never will end. Miss you so very much!

Little Dreams – India

The wedding date was set a year in advance and Buzz started making plans right then and there. For a child her age, a year is a long time coming which meant I kept telling her it would be a while. She waited and waited very patently at that but come September every day seemed never to pass. Anyone she met, it was all about the trip to India. Everyone in her school (students, teachers, parents, director of the school – everyone) knew the date we were leaving, the food she planned to eat, the clothes she hoped to wear.

“I can’t watch TV, right Mumma?” she looked at me with sad eyes as we sat down in our seats. I smiled and told her we would talk once the plane took off. So sure she was of the no TV rule that she kept saying “you will say no.” Seatbelts on, no kicking the seat in front, please don’t jump around, count to 100, listen to what the pilot is saying – I said it all to keep the two little bundles of energy in their place till we took off and then much to their delight I switched on the little TV screens in front of their seats. As I navigated, “Dora!” they screamed. Dora it was. Just before the show started, she looked at me with bright eyes and thanked me. I told her, we would take breaks, read a little, draw a little, sleep a little but she could watch shows and movies and those decisions were hers for the duration of the trip. —Delight at getting the freedom to pick her own screen time, never happened before!

“How will we go home? Do you know the way, Mumma?” she asked with concern. “Tau ji will come get us baby,” I told her. She was so uncertain, some faded memories, voices on the phone, hazy images over Skype. Would he really come? Would she like it if he came? But there he was and so was SP Didi. They opened their arms wide and she ran right in to them. The trip home was spent talking a mile a minute and endless kisses for SP Didi. Once home she walked in, looked around and remembered. With a smile, off she was to the room that was ours. Her excitement at familiar faces, familiar surroundings had us all in splits. —Joy of being engulfed in love, joy of being surrounded with family!

“We are going to see Nana,” “We love Nana,” “AK Mama is coming to get us, Yay!” “He calls me Makhhi, why?” “I can’t wait to ride the train!” Little voices kept repeating in a loop, till we got to railway station and they spotted AK Mama. She jumped in to Mama’s arms the minute the door of the car opened. Bugz, of course, had to copy which meant poor Mama had his hands full with two mini hurricanes. A week before we had left, he had send a message to me asking what I was getting for him. I had replied “2 jantu!” “You were not kidding,” he laughed at me, with the two of them hanging off of him. As we took our seats in the train, he got out two candies from his backpack and handed one to her. She looked at me, at my nod, took it, give him a hug, sat on his lap as she ate on. —Getting spoilt and how!

I was in the kitchen, trying to figure out what to make for breakfast when Mami ji rushed in. “Buzz kept looking at me as if she wanted to say something. I asked her what she wanted but she kept quite. I asked again and she very softly said ‘Parantha, paneer paranth.’ So move out of the kitchen, I have some paranthas to make.” Saying I would make them made no difference. “She asked Choti Nani so Choti Nani will make,” came the response. Mama ji who was forever busy on the phone making last minute arrangements for the wedding kept saying no when we asked him to make halwa for us. “Please Chote Nana,” she said softly. Chote Nana dropped everything was standing in the kitchen less than a minute later. “Nana, will you wake me up when you get up in the morning so that I can play with you?” and there he was every morning picking her up and playing with her. “Can we go to the park?” they would ask and there were at least 4 people ready to take them. —Everyone dancing to every demand big or small!

Shopping for wedding clothes was the hardest thing SIL and I did. The sheer amount of bling that was in the stores almost blinded us. The shift in fashion and how different it was from what we were looking for – for the kids, for ourselves made us despair. The idea of going shop to shop with four kids in tow had us worried but the kids figured out a game in no time. All the bling on the sarees, suits, lehngas are glued on and not stitched on which meant they fell off really easy and there was loads on the floor. ‘Jewels’ they called them and started collecting them. Four kids, 15 to 30 mins in a store meant the store floors were wiped clean by the time we left. —Games they come up with!

“Nana, I want a beautiful dress for the wedding, just like that dholi taro song. Will you ask Mumma to buy something like that for me?” Nana promised that she would have something similar, which meant everything we bought for them had to be approved by Nana. Added to it was the fact that there was nothing I was liking. Which meant I gave up and decided I would rather she wore cotton than the bling and took her to Fab India. She wanted a lehnga and there were a couple in her size. She liked one, I liked it too, paid and bought. All excited I came home but the lehnga failed Choti Nani’s and Nana’s sniff test. Too simple for a wedding, it was deemed. “I can’t find anything else,” I wailed. Paa made a few calls and figured out that there was one store that might have something for the kids. Not exactly to my taste but much better than anything else we had seem so under all the eyes watching me I said yes. She loved it. It twirled and swirled, what was not to love. —Gold and blue lehnga!

“Mehndi mehndi,” she had been dreaming for a year. “Can you draw a design on my hand?” ever so often she would come holding a pen. The day of mehndi came and she was giddy. We had a lot of little things to take care so we left early morning with the promise to come back in time for the mehndi in the evening. Between blouse fittings, bangle shopping, shoe shopping for the kids, shirt for AK Mama, jutti for PD Mama aka the groom, the day got away from us. As we were about to head back home, two evenings to the wedding, PD Mama remembered he had to get a pagdi and the kalgi that goes with it. What? Everything came to halt. We ran like crazy to find the shops. It was already dark and she knew the mehndi people were already home. Her little heart broke, convinced that they would leave before we got home. Promises and assurances made no difference. Even bribe of an ice-cream worked only for 10 or so minutes. Longest hour and half for her, for sure. We came home and she ran in crying, “Choti Nani did they leave?” and halted as she saw all the people singing and the mehndi wala sitting there. A quick change of clothes and she sat as she waited for her turn, all while other kids ran and played. Me telling her that I would call her when it was her turn made no difference. —The only child who did not wash her hands before going to bed that night!

“Papa is not going to come. I am sure he is not going to come.” Everyone was home, someone came by every hour but Papa was not there. It was the day of the sangeet, it was time for the late nap, after which we would get dressed and leave for sangeet and Papa was not there. “Papa will be here when you get up from your nap,” was met with “Are you sure? For real?” Well guess who woke her from her nap? And guess what she did when she saw his face? Held on tight and did not let go. Dressed in her Fab India lehnga and the bindi and chuddi that she had asked for but had thought I had forgotten, she bounced off the walls till the rest of us got dressed. Beautiful dress, music, dancing, food, ice-cream, Papa. —Life is good!

“Can we get dressed for the wedding?” “Why is it in the evening?” “Why can’t we dress up early?” “Why do we need to take a nap?” and we finally got dressed in the evening. The mehndi was perfect, the bangles jingled, the bindi matched, the lehnga twirled. As we got nearer to the wedding venue there was a horse drawn cart and all the kids got to sit in it to give PD Mama company. There was something called the band, there was dancing, there was a long wait to get inside the venue as Mama’s friends danced, there was candy cane, there was kulfi, and then the little bundle came to a halt .. there came SK Mami and she was beautiful. Pause and gape. OK there was paneer, there was ice-cream. Eat, dance, get pictures clicked and she fell asleep before the pheras started. But woke up in time to welcome Mami home. —Little dreams she dreamt of for a year, they all came true in one short trip!

Uncertainty..changes..tears..looking ahead

I was to start back at work when Bugz was six months old. The transition did not worry me as much as it did the first time around with Buzz, but decisions still needed to be made and we decided that we wanted her to stay at home for a little while more before she went to a daycare or school. We started looking for a nanny, talked to more than a few over the phone, met 4 in person. I can’t pinpoint on what/why we settled on the nanny we did, call it instinct, call it a feeling, but looking back I can only be thankful for it. The love and care Bugz gets from S is unmatched. Bugz said, Bugz did, Bugz wants – this is what I walk home to everyday. Every interest of hers is taken care of, every dislike preempted. As a parent, while your heart swells up with love for you child, it also gives an extra tight squeeze when you see an outpour of love for him/her from someone else. I have lived with this feeling for over two years now and I still can’t find the right words to tell S what she has done for us.

Change of course has to come and as unbelievable as it sounds, Bugz starts school soon. S was involved in the entire process of finding the right fit of school for Bugz, applications, acceptance letters and when things were in place she booked tickets back to her home town for a long overdue visit before she started her next nanny job. We have all known the dates for 6 months now but as the numbers come down to single digits, the heart sinks a little. I come home to S holding Bugz a little tighter, her eyes moist and promises of phone calls. I look the other way as I blink away the tears. Goodbye were never my strong suite for a reason.

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Buzz is coming to the end to her school year and with it comes the next set of changes. She will be moving to a different branch of her current school due to a few different reasons. From a small, cozy 5 class rooms, all in one hallway school, where everyone knows everyone else, she is moving to 3 floor, six hallway, big school.

Her current school has been amazing for her. She has played and laughed and danced and performed and kicked a ball and skipped over rocks. She has made art and collected jewels from the yard and made friends and shared her toys, she has found ways to express herself and has grown in confidence.

The fact that she is moving to different branch of the same school, helps calm me down. I know the main core of the school is the same, I have loved the various focus points of the school and I know that is not going to change. A couple of teachers and a lot of kids from Buzz’s class are moving as well, which will help with transition big time. In all I am fairly relaxed about the move, but the fact that I walk in to her class with teary eyed teachers upsets me. How do you thank teachers that get so attached to your kids? How do you find words for all they have done for your kids?

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Re-orgs happened at works a few months back and a new project came online. It seemed interesting and I signed up for it. It was exciting and new and a great learning experience. As I was getting in the rhythm of things next set of re-orgs happened. Since I was committed to the first set of work, I was asked to continue till the end of June after which I transition the work to someone else. The first part is set to release by the end of the month and as I spend a lot of hours finishing as much as I can, I also prepare handoff documents for the person unknown to take over. There is a part of me who wants to see it to the end, but the practical part tells me, learning is done so move on. The silver lining of course is that I will be coming back to my original team and they are counting days.

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Momentum is building – bye bye S, yearend performance, bye bye school, deliver on work, bye bye project and it all ends with us getting on a plane for a vacation in the sun.

After all the anxieties of June we will welcome July with open arms for it brings calm along. Buzz and Bugz will be going to the same school, I will have my old team back, things will find a way to settle down again. Till then the countdown is on – 17 days to the vacation we have all been looking forward to.

State Of Mind

Physically, mentally, any possible way there is to be – I am tired. We are now on to middle of April and I have had not a single day to just be. Weekdays, weekends, none!

I look back at the time when D and I were just married and wonder why I was so upset to have all that time to self? Why was the frustration of not being able to work so high? Why did I feel I was losing out on my dreams, my career? Job, visa status, inability to work – so much time I spend crying over it, why? I do know why, of course I do. But now when there are no breaks, why do I remember those time and smile at them? They were good times; they made for happy memories, even them tears.

I look back at the first few years when I started working again and I see this me who wanted so badly to make up for the years lost. Long work hours – self chosen, quick promotions – reward, better projects – fought for.

I look back to the time when Buzz was born and remember my decision to take a step away from the fast lane. While I did not leave my job completely, I did not take everything that was given to be either. I learned to say ‘No’ and be firm about it. I smile at my need to rush back home and hold my little baby, every single day.

I look back to the time when I was pregnant with Bugz and think of it as my lowest point personally and professionally. A promotion that was promised to me for all my work turned to the worst review I ever received due to getting a manager from hell at the last minute. And it did not even stand in front of the personal loss I was dealing with. The little humans and the hold they have on my heart were the only reason that I kept going.

I look back at last year, to the promotion that I finally got, only to realize it did not matter to me. I shrugged and moved on. No cheering, no celebration, nothing! My job now I think of as part-time, something I do on the side. My fulltime focus is my kids, my house. Do I hear snickers from my friends, of course and I have heard enough since the time Buzz was born. I have it easy, or I have taken the easy way out, I am told over and over again. Not a discussion I want to get into, so another shrug from me.

I look at the past couple of weeks and wonder what just happened. My entire team went missing for one reason or the other. There was one who was getting married, the other who had planned a vacation months is advance, the other whose training came up – one he had been waiting for months to get in to. Where did that leave the only person from the team at work, a.k.a me? Doing five peoples job, that’s what. 16+ hours a day, for a couple of weeks and then left with a backlog of my own work, which I am still trying to make up for. I don’t only feel like a zombie, I actually look like one too. Friday before last, while playing with the kids, around 6:30 in the evening, I lay down on the couch for a second and passed out. D came home to them kids jumping on me and I slept through it all. This past Tuesday, while D got the two little monkeys ready for bed, I lay down for a sec and fell asleep again, only to be woken up by Bugz trying to pry my eyelids apart so that she could get her goodnight kiss.

In my fatigue induced dream world I sit and think to myself that in true blue Indian mother style I should quit work and start to focus on Buzz’s education when she turns 15. Peek study years, getting admissions to a good college.. yada yada. Mind drifts off to ‘the girls will be old by then, we can all take a girly vacation together while D can continue working to provide for the said vacation’. Ahh! The images are perfect, when my work email pings like crazy and I crash land in to reality. As I morn, it comes to me that I am exactly half way through my total working years if I actually quit at that time. Halfway done people! Yahoo! My future is bright, with times with the kids when they will actually remember, vacations and trips, girl times (if they want one, but we will not think sad thoughts). Retirement here I come!

Gladulation

One Sunday morning in mid Jan, Buzz wore her ski boots, stumbled her way through putting them in her skis, tried going down a bunny slope, fell, complained, tried again, cribbed, repeat and repeat some more.

One Sunday morning at end of March, Buzz wore her ski boots, clicked them into her skis confidently, went on the quad chair lift, up the big cliff (the easy green lifts are for kids after all), came down a bumpy slope with ease.

The same Sunday morning, Bugz wore little ski boots, broke Maa’s back while trying to put on the littlest skis ever, a few simple instructions followed and she came down the bunny slope, with full confidence, right in to Maa’s waiting hands.

The same Sunday, around 4:00 P.M., Buzz came down the slope making a big snake along with her class and all the other classes taking lessons. Parent cheered, bells rang, claps and shouts, cameras flashed, pride so high on those slopes that you could almost see it.

10 weeks went by before we realized. The progress Buzz made was beyond words. The joy Bugz showed worth 100. D can’t stop gushing over his little ones’ and planning endless trips to the mountains, of course. As for me, I started my journey one Sunday morning in mid Jan with one kid on the bunny slope and ended it one Sunday morning at end of March with the other kid on the same bunny slope.

We all gladulated as a family, don’t you think, even when only one of us got a certificate to prove it.