Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zoom

Yay! This is the last post for the challenge and I actually finished it!

My earliest experiences with photography involved a point and shoot film camera. It was limited in terms of the things you could do with it, the number of pictures you could take and not to mention, the financial issues (developing costs money!). And in spite of that, I would take pictures whenever it was possible. I was the official photographer for any family event that was not important enough to hire a professional photographer for. I took decent pictures and most of all, I was willing to take the extra effort to capture special moments and at the right angles. So that made me quite a popular photographer (with the family at least).

When we started earning money, R and I did a lot of research and bought ourselves a digital panasonic Lumix. It was one of the best digital cameras of its kind. We would take it out during vacations and play around with it quite a lot. We used it quite a bit before we decided to take the plunge to get ourselves a D-SLR camera. Finally, as a combined birthday gift (R and I have the same Birthday month), we decided to buy a nice and expensive Nikon D-SLR. We were super excited when we bought it and started experimenting with the different things it could do. Somewhere along the way, R started to lose interest where as I continued to pursue photography as a hobby. Since R was not that interested any more, I got sole ownership of the camera now.

From then, I started a special relationship with my camera. We went to several places and did a lot of things together. The zoom lens will always be special to me because it was the first lens that I bought together with my camera. After all that experimenting, I got pretty good at taking pictures of people and nature. What is more was that I thoroughly enjoyed taking pictures, although I did not so much enjoy the post-processing so much. I always believed that if you take good pictures, you don’t need to process them much for them to actually look good. And then somewhere along the way, we lost touch (my camera and I)! In between my thesis writing and my pregnancy and having Pickles, I pretty much lost the special relationship.

Once Pickles came along, I tried every now and then to take his photographs to record all his major milestones. I probably haven’t done a very good job for the last one year, thanks to all the exhaustion and sleepless nights. But now, I am looking forward to reviving the relationship with my camera again. If this A-to-Z blogging challenge has taught me one thing, it is that I can find the time to do stuff if I really want to. 

I hope that I can take my camera out of it’s dry cabinet more often now. And you'll probably see for yourselves if I do. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Yesterday

Yesterday, I thought smoking was cool and was willing to even try. Today, I will shoo you away from a distance, if I see a cigarette in your hands.

Yesterday, I would roll my eyes at a parent, if I saw a noisy and/or messy kid. Today, I'll just meet the parent's eye, give them a silent nod of understanding and help if I can.

Yesterday, I swore I wouldn't be 'that' parent, who wont stop talking about their kids. Today, I try hard not to be but I probably would, if you show the slightest sign that you are interested.

Yesterday, I  judged people (a lot!). Today, I can empathise and I know everyone is trying to do their best.

Yesterday, I thought nothing of watching a 3 hour movie at a stretch. Today, I think it's a luxury (Is that even possible anymore?!)

Yesterday, I complained I was sleepy even after a full night's sleep. Today, I'm happy with whatever little sleep I can get.

Yesterday, I thought I didn't have enough hobbies. Today, I say, 'what's that, again?!'

Yesterday, I complained that I had no time. Today, I still do (I suspect I always will).

Yesterday, I did a lot of foolish things. Today, I'm just glad I lived to tell the tale.

Yesterday, I was young and foolish. Today, I am older and maybe a little wiser(?)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for XL

If you're in doubt, I'm talking about the sizing charts on cloth labels.

I've never been a very small person. Neither am I extremely big sized. When I was younger and in India, I always bought stuff with M size or sometimes even L. I wasn't really concerned about the sizing charts all that much. As long as I found anything I wanted to wear in my size, I was cool about what size the chart showed.

Then I moved to Singapore. Imagine my surprise when I went shopping the first time. I found that even the clothes labelled L didn't fit. I had to shift to XL or XXL even and that too, only if they were available in those sizes. Many labels didn't even make clothes to fit people like me. I was mortified. It was not that I had suddenly become fat or bigger. Just that the people around me were suddenly smaller and more petite. I remember getting terribly depressed about the size of clothes. I remember wondering if I really was so abnormally big that it warranted not getting clothes that were my size at all.

Well, that was clothes. About shoes, the lesser said the better. When I asked for a size 10 , the sales staff would give me questioning looks.  'A UK size 40 please', I would politely say again. They would then look at me funnily and then look at my feet. 'Are you sure?', they would ask. 'Yes, absolutely'! And with that I would show them my huge feet. They would nod, perhaps in agreement, perhaps in surprise and say, 'Oh sorry, Ma'am, this one doesn't come in a size 40. Why don't you try these?' and then show me the ugliest looking pair of shoes in the store.Or worse, they would point at shoes from the men's section and call them unisex. I would just inwardly roll my eyes, shake my head and walk away, muttering a quick thank you.

When I went to the US or to Europe though, I noticed a different trend. Forget L, I could actually even ask for an S size and fit into it comfortably! And shoes, oh yes! I would find any shoe in my size and a few sizes bigger too. I shopped like crazy and came back loaded, until my poor suitcase could hold no more, although I remember one of my Singaporean friends had to actually shop at the kids' section. She was embarrassed that she couldn't find clothes in her size. They were all too big for her. And it was then I realised, it is just a matter of where you are. And truly, and in this case especially, the people around you define what (size) you are.

Now I shop quite easily. Maybe now, I know where to shop. But I must admit, I actually find good shoes and even great ones, every now and then. I have absolutely no qualms about being a size XL or XXL even. And I'm not even embarrassed about my large feet. I guess that's what growing up does. I have lost my sense of extreme vanity along the way. It doesn't matter whether it is a size XS or XL that I'm wearing. What matters is that it fits well.

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Wish

So, Sayesha, Shub and I decided to do something special for W. We decided to do a common word, Wish with each of us making a wish/es for another's kid. I'm writing this for Shub's little A. Shub has written this for lil Xena and Sayesha has written this for Pickles. So here goes..

Dear Little A,

You're very lucky! I hope you know that. Lucky that you were born to very loving parents who'll let you grow as a person and will stand by you every step of the way. Someday you're going to be old enough to read this and understand what I'm saying. And that day, I wish that you have all the things that I wished for, as a young lady but couldn't have and so much more.

I wish that by the time you read this, you're a strong, confident and bright young woman just like your mum. I wish you have a lot of good friends but also a few great friends who'll have your back, no matter what (that is something I had, yes!). I wish that you be fearless and more so that you don't need to fear anything. I wish a different world for you than the one I had when I was growing up.

 I wish that you don't have to say you can't do something because it's not safe for women. I wish that your parents don't have to stop you from going for a run at 11PM. I wish that one day, you can just pick up your backpack and travel wherever you want to (or ride your bike, if  you choose to), just by yourself. I wish that you can travel the world. There is nothing like travelling to teach you important lessons about yourself and the world that you live in.

I wish for you, an equal society, where you are not discriminated against, because of your sex. Where you can do what you wish, how you wish and whenever you wish it. A society that doesn't burden you with rules of double standards and hypocrisy. A society where you can rise to the top without having to pay a price at any point, for being a woman.

I sure hope that the men from your generation know that they have to play a big role too (only a few good men from my generation will agree). Not to protect you, hell no! (If all men understood that, you wouldn't need to be protected at all). Just to respect you and treat you as equal, just as another human being. And I sure as hell hope that I can raise my son to be one of those men!

And more than anything else, I wish a world of peace for you. One where you can travel where ever you want and not have to think twice about it.

Aunty M

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vacation

When I was a kid, summer vacations meant no school. But they didn't mean going away to another place, much less another country. Of course, there was no money to go to another country back then but Dad didn't believe in travelling, even to a neighbouring town unless there was a specific need for it. At most he'd send us to a relative's place or to visit my grandparents. So, my earliest memories of vacations are limited to train rides to Mysore or bus rides to Mangalore and a stay at a relative's house. Of course, Dad got transferred to another small town but yet until much later, my experiences remained limited to Bangalore and some other parts of the state.

And then in college, I told Dad I would like to go and study elsewhere. To him, this was an absurd idea. Since he had himself grown up pretty much in hostels all over India, he didn't want to put us through that. Shocked as he was, he said something along the lines of, 'You get in first and then we'll talk'. That was when I travelled to a few more places in India for the entrance exams of prestigious universities. It's another matter that Dad didn't let me go to any of the schools I got into, but I am thankful that he at least let me travel to a few more places in the country.

A few years later, I moved to Singapore. Moving to Singapore was a fresh start for me. It was my first time staying out of home, living alone, earning my own money and living in a different country. Along with a lot of other firsts, Singapore opened doors to a lot of places around the country. In the first couple of years, I travelled to some of the neighbouring countries, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and each trip, although short was a new experience in culture and in travelling itself.

When I enrolled for my PhD, my scholarship gave me funds to travel to any place for one conference every year. I learnt from my fellow students that the conference was less important than the location where it was being held. Then started my experiences with real travelling. Using my scholarship, I travelled to Switzerland, Italy, Scotland and the United States of America. Each trip opened my eyes a little wider to how substantial and diverse a place the world really is. Every trip made me want to travel more. Although I enjoyed all my trips, the ones which let me grow the most, was when I travelled alone. It forced me to  meet new people, experience new things, and take leaps of faith. It helped me to broaden my horizons just a little bit more.

It has been a while since I last travelled (if you don't count my annual trip to India). Travelling with Pickles will be a challenge to say the least. I know a lot of people do it and with great ease, but for me it will be new and it sure is scary. But I hope to travel more with him. I hope to take him to newer places and experience newer cultures with him. I guess it is true that we do for our children, what we lacked as kids. Just like my dad wanted to protect me from hostels because he had bad experiences, I want to give Pickles the gift of travelling early in his life, because I didn't have it.

This post comes right in time as I am planning our next vacation. I'm super excited, can you tell? After all, half the fun of a vacation is planning it and waiting for it. Don't you think so?

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for Uncategorized

Just to give you an idea about what was churning in my head, all day, yesterday. Read at your own risk!

U is for U2, the first thing that came to mind before writing this post. Did I tell you I love them?

U is also Unbreak my heart,which was playing on loop in my head yesterday while thinking of a word for U. And just to be clear, I'm not very fond of that song. It's just that the word 'un-break' bothers me.

U is for University where I had the most fun of my life.

U is for Urvashi theatre, where I watched movies in college, after bunking lots of classes.

U is for Ugly duckling, which I always was. I don't know when the transformation will happen. I'm still waiting.

U is for Unsolicited advice, that I don't take well to. Sure, go on all you like. I might even nod and humour you but it doesn't mean I will take it (your advice, I mean).

U is for Unspoken rules, the ones, which you should always adhere to.

U is for Urban Bites, which is one of our favourite haunts for middle eastern fare, which reminds me, we haven't been there in a while.

U is for UK (Upahaara Kendra, not United Kingdom), which reminds me of their mouth-watering dosas.

U is for unlimited. I can go on and on with this post, the list for U in the dictionary is huge.

U is for Unintentional, if this post gave you any grief.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Trapped!

Ok, I know I'm giving away a lot with the title, but you'll know what happened once you read this anyway. This is part 5 of the escapade series. You can find the rest of the series here.

The girls woke up and realised that they were on the train and would reach Bangalore soon. They freshened up and got ready to get down . They considered alighting at the Cantonment station, (which is a stop before the main Bangalore city station), just in case somebody was there looking for Vee. But they soon decided not to, as it was difficult to get to where they wanted to go, to Mee's friend's place. They alighted at the Bangalore city station and soon made their way to the cloak room. On their way, Mee tried calling her friend, but did not get an answer. Not sure where to go, they thought they would figure it out slowly. In their naiveté, they thought that they were now safe as they were out of their town. Little did they know that the people who had met Soo and Mee had alerted relatives in Bangalore and they were looking for the girls at the Bangalore city train station.

As they were walking to the cloak room, Vee saw a familiar face. For a moment, she forgot that she was supposed to hide. Before anybody realized what was happening, she went straight to this person and shook hands with him. Only then, did Vee realize what a blunder she had just committed. This man, Uncle V, had a sheet of paper in his hands. Slowly he looked at each of the girls and read,

'Tall and fair...You must be Soo' he winked,

'Tomboyish with short must be Mee', he winked again,

'Short and pretty, you must be Shee', he identified each one of the girls.

'Hello, girls', he said with an evil grin. 'I'm sorry but you have no choice, please come with me now!', he said as he winked again.

The girls realised that they had no choice but to follow the man. If this was anybody else, this scene would have been grave. But because it was Uncle V,  it was hilarious. The girls didn't know whether to laugh at him or to take him seriously. With great difficulty, they kept straight faces.

If you thought Uncle Chot was a character, Uncle V a.k.a the winker was totally something else. Each of his sentences were punctuated with winks and his mannerisms were extremely funny. He would chew tobacco as he spoke and spit every now and then. He would scratch himself randomly and his movements were vey jerky. He was a meek man and was terribly scared of his wife. His wife, Aunty V, was another character. She was huge and towered over her husband. She was loud, spoke her mind and never forgot to tell the winker how useless he was. In another time, the girls might have actually liked her but for now, she was the enemy.

The winker immediately made some calls to say that the girls had been located and that he was now bringing them home with him. Although, there was a situation now. He had come to the station alone on his scooter and obviously he could not take all the girls with him. Instead he stopped an auto-rickshaw (a three-wheeled vehicle, in India), made the girls sit inside and then told the driver to follow him. He now sat on his scooter and merrily rode away, convinced that the auto would follow him. In the auto, the girls guffawed away. They couldn't believe how stupid the winker was. All they had to do was bribe the auto driver and tell him to take a different route and they were pretty sure he would do it. But since they had no place to stay yet and they were hungry and tired, they decided to go with him. They figured that with someone this stupid, they could give him the slip anytime they chose to.

In about half an hour, they reached the winker's home. It was a nice little house with a big garden. Aunty V waited for them near the door. She gave Vee a hug once she saw her and nodded at the rest of them. Aunty V, was way smarter than her husband. Once the girls were inside, she made them put all their money on the table. This was her way of making sure the girls wouldn't escape again. Mee however was smarter. She always kept most of her money in a secret pocket. She made a show of emptying all her pockets while still leaving some money behind. Aunty V took all this money and hid it away. She then made breakfast for the girls and locked them up in the guest room. She told them that more people would come to meet them soon. Vee thought her parents would come and get her but it turned out that her parents were now actually in Hyderabad and doing something important. This meant that Vee would not get to see her parents anytime soon. be continued.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Simple pleasures

That wonderful trail of coffee aroma that says 'come and get me!'

The broad grin on the little one's face that greets you first thing in the morning.

Looking at old photographs and reliving memories.

An unexpected nap at noon.

A phone call out of the blue, from an old long lost friend.

A simple home-cooked meal at the end of a stressful day.

Meeting green lights at all the traffic signals on your way to work.

The realisation when you wake up that it is still 3 am and you can go back to sleep again.

Finding the perfect pair of shoes/dress at the first stop during a shopping spree.

A Good-hair day amidst many bad ones.

Setting foot indoors the moment it starts pouring outside.

A quiet, uninterrupted conversation with R over dinner.

Hearing an old favourite song playing somewhere, one that you haven't heard in ages.

Being at the receiving end of the first kiss from your baby.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Runaway Train

This is one of my most favourite songs but no, this post is not about that. This is the part 4 of the escapade series. You can find the earlier posts here.

With help from some others, the girls had found that Uncle Chot had actually put people all around town to keep an eye for Vee or any suspicious activities from her friends. They had to now tread with extreme caution. On the day before, they all prepped for D day carefully, packed their clothes and went to bed. The next day, the train was to reach their town at 7:55 PM and would leave from the station in 5 minutes at 8 PM.

Their plan was simple. Soo and Mee would get to the railway station first, look around for any dangers and then call the other two. When the coast was clear, Shee and Vee would come to the station and board the train, just in time before the train left. Also, Vee would cover her face with a scarf and make sure she would not be spotted before or after she boarded the train.

When D day dawned, their stomachs were in knots. They were nervous but extremely excited too.
They were determined to pull this through. In their young heads, they had to do this to make sure their friend was safe and happy. The previous night, Vee and Shee had made sure they had disconnected the phone at Shee's house so that Uncle Chot could not contact Shee's parents, at least immediately after they left. Mee and Soo had given specific instructions (with substantial bribery, of course) to their friends in their neighbours' houses not to call their parents if someone called asking for them. They had tried as much as possible to avoid getting into any trouble with their parents but they were sure they eventually would, and were ready to face the consequences. But for now, they had to be focussed on the task at hand.

At around 6 PM, they all bid farewell to their families and met up at Shee's place. They reviewed their plan one last time and then Soo and Mee set off. They were travelling with as little luggage as they could manage but girls being girls, they still had a lot. Soo and Mee went to the railway station at 7PM and true to suspicion, they found some of Vee's relatives at the platform where the train was supposed to come. They stayed out of sight and hoped Shee and Vee would be careful too.

At 7:45 PM, the train was announced. Mee and Soo went to the platform and still tried to stay out of sight. At one point, Vee's relatives actually saw Mee and recognised her. Now that there was no escape, Mee casually went up to them and said hello. She told them that her relatives were arriving from Mumbai and she was here to receive them. And then she asked them what they were doing here. They just mumbled something and then quickly left. And then the train arrived at the station. It was always a rush to board that train because the train stopped at this station only for a few minutes and a lot of people were waiting to board. Amidst that crowd, Soo and Mee were trying to get into the train as discretely as they could. They pushed their way in within a few moments. They found that the general compartment of the train was super crowded but they found a couple of seats and plonked themselves there. But now they were terribly anxious that Shee and Vee had not reached yet. In a few minutes, the train would leave and if they didn't turn up, Soo and Mee would be in Bangalore without anything to do. The four of them had not even discussed such a possibility.

These were the days before they had cell phones, so there was no way in which they could contact them. Soo and Mee panicked and found themselves looking out frantically for their friends. Then the train hooted, which was a sign that it would leave in the next minute or so. Their hearts were beating so hard, they thought they would explode. It looked like their friends wouldn't make it on time. But just when the train was about to move, they saw Vee and Shee running towards the train. Vee looked hilarious with a pair of dark sunglasses and a scarf around her face.They quickly boarded the train and all of them collectively burst out laughing. The train now started moving and slowly picked up speed. Soon, it was out of  the station and chugging away. The girls heaved a sigh of relief. They had made it to the train and they were actually on their way to Bangalore.

On the train, they realised the general compartment was crazily crowded. Thankfully, Shaan had booked them on the ladies compartment. They couldn't have imagined travelling otherwise. But still, some rogue ladies had put all their luggage on the seats and hence there wasn't enough room for everyone. Now that the girls were out of their town, they did not have to hide or shy away. They were ready to take on anything and anybody. High on adrenaline, they started to pick a fight with anyone who'd mess with them. So also, the rogue ladies, who quickly put their stuff down and allowed the girls to sit down.

Now they were thinking about where they'd go once they reached Bangalore. Mee had a close friend there, who she was in touch with. She thought her friend would definitely help them out. She had assumed that they could go to her house and probably stay there. Mee had tried calling her place a few times but had not been able  to reach her in the last couple of days. Mee thought that once they reached Bangalore, they could probably just show up at her friend's place. But they did not want to alarm Mee's friend or her parents, turning up with luggage and all. They finally decided that they would drop of their luggage at the cloak room and then go to Mee's friend's place after they reached Bangalore.

The train ride was fun and almost uneventful if you discount the little spats they had with the ladies around and the squabbles they had amongst themselves. But they had made a lot of noise, playing anthakshari, singing songs, giggling away and generally being themselves. They even could sleep a little that night in all kinds of wierd positions (there was no place to lie down!) and on each other's shoulders. When they woke up in the morning, the train was slowly edging towards Bangalore and they would be there soon. But little did they know of the surprise that waited for them. Nobody was prepared for what would meet them when they reached Bangalore! be continued.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quality time

When I was a kid, the number of working moms was fewer than they are now. My mom, however, fell into that category. She used to work for a bank. I was really proud of her and would tell anybody who'd ask that she was superwoman, Yes, she had 4 kids and still went to work (and worked at home too). People would raise eyebrows and wowed. I never understood why. But I remember that Ma was always around. Even when I think really hard, I can't remember a time when she wasn't there for me when I needed her.

I remember, no matter how early I woke up, Ma was always up. I remember thinking that maybe she never went to sleep. But every morning, she would be so fresh. She would tend to each one of us and help us get ready for school. Our breakfast would be ready and she would pack our lunch boxes to take to school. Ma went to work from 9 to 5. But once she was back from work, she was all ours. She would play with us or help us study. She would immerse herself in making sure all her kids were happy. She would go with us to the playground (for as long as we wished for her to go with us). And even at home, I never ever remember her saying that she was busy or that she didn't have the time. She would just leave everything and play snake and ladders with us. Saturdays and Sundays were even more special. She took us to parks and on bus rides. Every little thing was special.

My dad was a workaholic. He never got home early. By the  time he got home, most of  the  time we would either be sleepy or fast asleep already. I don't remember him playing a very active role either in our studies or in our playtime. But strangely, I never missed him. Because Ma was there and she was enough. Ma never asked for 'me-time'. I don't remember her going for any pampering sessions. Neither did she demand that dad be actively involved with the kids.

Today I look at how things have changed. I love spending time with Pickles,but  I want my 'me-time' too. The time that I spend outside of work has so many demands. I want to cook, read, surf the net, watch movies, work out, go for a run, swim, spend time with my friends, with R, go shopping. Phew, the list is endless. So, there! I want to do more. I want some of my life just to myself. I am selfish. I am not happy, just being a mum.

One spare moment, and I am looking at my phone, reading a message or chatting. Or reading some article or book on my ipad. I remember that is how I spent most of my breastfeeding time when Pickles was little. I knew I shouldn't but I did it anyway. I still do that sometimes, when he has just fallen asleep, snuggling next to me. Maybe that is why the concept of 'quality-time' came into being. To make sure you had some non-electronic-gadget time. To actually stop multitasking and enjoy the moment, doing the most important thing, spending time and making memories with your baby. And it's not that I don't spend quality time with Pickles. I do. But I am not happy with that either. I always feel I am not doing enough.

Ma had a job, a busy workaholic husband, minimal help and 4 kids. Still, Ma was always happy and had a smile on her face and no complaints. I have a job, a very helpful partner, full-time help and one little kid, but you will still hear me complaining that I don't have enough time to do everything I want. The amount of time that she had and I do are similar but the problem, I realised is that  I want to do more and more. I am never satisfied. Maybe I should slow down and do fewer things for now. I should probably pick the things I want to do carefully and put off the rest until Pickles grows up. Maybe that will make for more quality time with Pickles and a happier me!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Paternal instincts

Becoming a mom was a big change for me but I guess mother nature had already prepped me for it. The instincts were there and stepping into motherhood was relatively easy and I think I was a mom the moment Pickles was born. Not that I had  a choice. I had this baby and he had me and we slowly figured things out.

I can't imagine it must have been the same for R, well not biologically at least. I have watched him slowly step into fatherhood with gingerly toes. I have seen him undergo the different stages, confusion, denial, acceptance and the slow bonding with his newborn son. It was easier for me to handle him as soon as Pickles was handed to me. But for R, he was terribly paranoid at first as he had zero experience carrying babies of that age, or any age for that matter. Slowly but surely, he stepped up, he started to volunteer to carry the baby, burp him or rock him to sleep. In the days when the routine was feed, burp, change, sleep, rinse, lather and repeat, R started to participate more actively and slowly made up his own ways as he went along.

I remember very distinctly this incident that happened when Pickles was about a couple of months old. A close friend was having a birthday that day and R and I decided to go and have lunch with friends. We thought it would be a good change for the both of us. So, we left Pickles with my mum and set off for a couple of hours.

My friend's daughter Xena is our darling. We've all been friends a long time and Xena is comfortable around us. During our lunch that day, Xena kept hopping from lap to lap, taking the time to talk  to each one of us. It was during this that she parked herself on R's lap. We continued to eat and at one point, we looked at R and burst into laughter. When he looked at us questioningly, one of us then told him, "R, Xena's a big girl now and doesn't really need to be burped."It was then that R realised he had been unconsciously patting Xena's back like he was burping her. After days and nights of doing just that, it had come to him naturally.

It was then that I started to notice this partner of mine in a different light. He has since then transformed into a Dad, and a great one at that! It just makes my heart melt to see him and Pickles bonding together. Maybe it is my hormones, maybe that is how nature meant it to be but it makes me more fond of him than I ever was.

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Operation Runaway

This is the third in the series of the 'Escapades of the Jackdaws'. You can find the earlier parts here and here.

Part One of their plan was now successful. They had decided to go to take Vee to Bangalore. The girls now had to start thinking about putting the part two of their plan in action.

Uncle Chot was an influential man. The girls were sure that he would have planted people in the bus station and in the railway station to look for Vee. They had to make sure they could get her out without getting caught. From their town, they could either take the bus or train to Bangalore. Although quite a few buses went to Bangalore, the girls decided to take the one train that actually travelled from Mumbai to Bangalore but passed by their town and stopped there for exactly 3-5 minutes. Travelling by bus would mean standing at the bus station for long periods of time before the bus left, meaning there was a greater possibility that they would be discovered. Also, the bus could actually be stopped anywhere.They decided that  there were lesser chances of getting caught on the train as long as they managed to board the train on time.

The girls now had to figure out:
1) how to get enough money for their tickets and stay in Bangalore?
2) what to tell their parents and whether to tell them or not?

To arrange for the money, they began to collect all they could from the money they had saved up. When they checked, they realised that they were short. By a lot! They started to collect all their old text books to sell. They even got the reluctant Mee to sell her older text books in the little second hand book store in the market. Even after all this, they had enough money only to buy one train ticket. They decided they needed to tell their parents something and get more money and at the same time, get permission to leave town, at least till they were found out!

Shee went and told her parents that Vee's brother was getting married in Bangalore. Vee went personally to Shee's parents to invite Shee. She told the trusting Shee's parents that she would love for Shee  to come to her brother's wedding in Bangalore and they agreed. So, they now had money for Shee's ticket and a little more for her expenses. They made Soo tell her parents the same lie, and they agreed too! With that, they had money for Soo's tickets.

The problem with saying the same lie at Mee's place was that Mee's parents knew that Vee's brother was only a year older and hence could not be married so early. So, Mee told her parents that Vee's aunt was getting married. But it was a long process of crying and coaxing before Mee's dad agreed but he also agreed to send Mee off only for a couple of days. Now they had money for all their tickets and sightly a little more money to manage expenses for a couple of days or so. for more money, they badgered one of Soo's ardent admirers Shaan (a friend too!) to loan them some money. He was nice enough to loan them some money and also asked them to be careful.

Now, about buying the train tickets. If they were to reserve train tickets, they would have to give their names and this in turn meant that the names could be seen by anyone prior to them boarding the train. To solve this, they decided to get unreserved tickets i.e. tickets to the general compartment, which meant no dedicated seats. They thought this would be only a slight inconvenience. And because anyone of them would be easily spotted at the train station, they got Shaan to queue and buy the tickets for the four of them for the next day.

Now they had train tickets, money and were in high spirits. They just had to manage to get out of town unnoticed! be continued.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for No

'No', sounds pretty simple, right. How hard can it be to say it?

Well, it turns out that for some people (like me), this can be pretty hard. It's not like I'm a yes-man and I can disagree. But I find it very hard to say no to other people.

If at work, someone asks me for help, I always oblige. But sometimes, I find that I am running around, stressed and doing things for some people when they are actually relaxing with a cup of coffee. It pisses me off no end, but I just try to be nice. When they ask, I think they really need help but at times, I feel I am being taken advantage of. I'm trying now to draw the line.

Take another instance, I can never say I can't make it to a party. Or worse, if someone invites themselves to our home, I still can't say no. Due to this, I find that our weekend schedules are always full, even if I want to spend some quiet time with my family. R always complains that I over plan our weekends, when the truth is it just gets planned. I almost have nothing to do with it. Except that sometimes, I want to say no but I can't.

It's not like I'm the nicest person around and neither do I want to be. But I don't want to change the way I am just because some people take advantage of it (some without even realising it). But if you think, I'm a pushover, well I'm not. I can stand up for myself when the need arises. But it all boils down to this simple thing, I can't say no. I try but the words just get stuck on my tongue and I just can't spit them out. I admire people who can say no without any guilt whatsoever, even at the cost of hurting the other person involved. But that's not me. Neither do I want to be that person. I'm just saying that I want to be able to say no when nobody stands to get hurt and that will maybe buy me some peace.

So, what's your take? Can you say no? How do you do it?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for Motherhood

This was a no-brainer for me! M had to be for Motherhood. With this post, I've actually made it halfway through the challenge. How are you faring?

"Wait till you have a kid, and then you will know!", I've heard this enough number of times from my mum and several other mums too. I guess it is true, motherhood teaches you so many things, it's amazing! It's almost like with the title mum, you also get many other qualities imbibed into you, just by diffusion or something. Motherhood has changed me in so many ways that sometimes I wonder if I am still the same person at all. The list below is not exhaustive, just things I could think of over the top of my head:

I have always been a person who needed a minimum of 8 hours a night. I could hardly function well without sleep. That is one of the first things that changed after motherhood. I can hardly remember a night since Pickles was born, where I even slept for 6 hours straight. Now I am amazed at how little sleep I can actually get by with.

Patience was initially a virtue that I was completely devoid of. I used to think R would be the one who's more patient with the kids and I would be the impatient parent. But I was wrong. I find myself being patient with Pickles for things that would have driven me crazy before he came along. Although I've always had a short fuse for a lot of things, with Pickles, I've actually surprised myself time and again. I can actually do the same thing a million times with him, sing the same songs, read the same books over and over,  and generally handle him without losing it. I used to always wonder how Ma could be so patient. Now I think, it's probably due to the fact that she has four children, so she would have needed four times the amount of patience to handle us!

If I thought I was good at multitasking before, now I must be a super multi-tasker or something. My mind is constantly a whirr of things that need to be done. And I am always planning the next thing to do on my calendar even as I am finishing a task. Planning work in the lab has never been better. I try and get as much done in as little time as I can, just so I can be home in time for Pickles! No more working late nights or weekends for me. Making shopping lists, grocery shopping, planning meals and everything else happens like clockwork. Calls to friends and family are only during travel time and that is the only time I have to talk/message.

Extra energy?
As I mentioned above, all that multitasking ensures that I get so many things done! Sometimes, I find it amazing that I have energy left even when I am overwhelmed with fatigue. I can actually get up from bed to do that one little chore that I had forgotten about (a thought that was laughable at one time!). And to top it all, I can wake up in the middle of the night to pump breastmilk if need be. My current mantra is, 'what doesn't kill you, actually makes you stronger'.

I am bothered by things that never bothered me earlier. I am scared about a lot of things, like climate change! I worry about what kind of a world I've brought Pickles into. I find myself crinkling up my nose at smokers, especially if they're smoking around Pickles. I refuse to get associated with people, who I think will be a bad influence on him.

I want to be a better person
This is one of the best changes that motherhood has brought about. I am constantly trying to be a better person now, because I want to teach Pickles to do the right things. I figure that if I don't follow what I preach, how can I expect him to take me seriously? Whether it is the silliest of habits like washing hands or important practises like being polite, I have to do it right, so that I can give Pickles something to look up to, something to follow.

More appreciation for my own Mother
I've always loved Ma a lot, and I respect her a great deal. But after I stepped into motherhood, I have a newfound respect for her. When I sometimes complain that it is difficult to manage with a job and one kid, I wonder how she managed singlehandedly four kids and a full-time job with little or almost no help from my dad! And she did an amazing job with all of us. I can't remember even one instance when I needed her and she wasn't there for me, even now!

It just gets me thinking that she set the bar too high. If I can manage to be half the mother that Ma is, I will consider that I have done justice to my role as a mother.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Lucky

or not!

I was lucky that I got pregnant, when so many women have problems.
I thought not, once the morning  all-day-sickness started!

I considered myself unlucky that I gave birth to Pickles in the beginning of the eighth month.
My doctor said I was lucky. Born at 2.5Kg, he would have weighed at least 4 kg if he was full term. 'He saved you a lot of trauma', she said!

I thought I was unlucky that I was cheated out of two months of pregnancy.
Maybe I was lucky that I was spared the most difficult part!

I was unlucky, I thought,  because I had to give birth without any pain medications at all.
The doctor said I was lucky, because a few hours of intense pain was nothing compared to the backache I could have had as a side-effect of the epidural.

Pickles was unlucky, I thought, to have not got two more months in the womb.
But I guess, he is lucky to have an extra two months in his mum's arms.

It's all a matter of perspective, don't you think?

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Keeping fit

I am not an extremely fit person. But I try to make sure I eat healthy and exercise regularly, although I tend to hit road blocks every now and then. When it comes to fitness, I'm not a very picky person. As in, as long as I have company, I'll go with the flow. If I find a friend who is a swimming enthusiast, I'll gladly swim. If I find company for a run, I will run. Call it a weak mind, but a buddy system is my best form of training.

I remember the best form I was in was probably around 10 years ago. I was single, had a good job and lived with my parents. Every morning, I would wake up at 3:30 am (insane, I know!) and head to the gym at 4 am. And then I would go for a run with my coach and a bunch of others. Coach was a veteran runner who represented India in the Asian games. He was still competing in the veteran category. For some reason, he had taken me under his wing and decided to coach me to get in good form. I would gladly accompany him for his morning jog (which was, of course a run for me!), irrespective of whether the others would turn up or not. Then around 5am, we would get back to the gym to hit the machines or join the cardio class, depending on whatever was the schedule for the day. Coach encouraged me to keep a record of what I was doing at the gym and what I was eating, also the amount of weight/inches lost or how close I was getting to my ideal weight and fitness levels. And during that one year, I think I was in the fittest form of my life, and why not? I was working out for almost 2 hours, six days a week.

And then I moved! Singapore is a runner's paradise. I would see runners everywhere and at any time of the day, be it hot afternoons, early mornings or late nights! There are tracks and park connectors all over town and what's more, it is safe to run at any time of the day or night. So, I got R to accompany me in the beginning and soon he was bitten by the bug too. We ran a few 10Ks in the first year and a half-marathon in the next. Then, we met friends who made running even more fun. We started training for the marathon together. R and I ran every day in the evenings. And every weekend involved a stay-over with friends followed by an early morning run and then a much-deserved breakfast/brunch. And we all finished the full marathon that year. Although the training was fun, I swore I would never put my body through that again (that is a story for another day). After finishing the marathon, I ran a few times again, but never so regularly.

Later, R and decided to get as fit as we could, when we could still do it. We both joined the gym and it became a regular thing again after work, three days a week. We would both push each other, eat healthy and follow a very strict regimen. We even went swimming once a week. And then, work or someone visiting would get in the way and our exercise routine would be destroyed. We would attempt to start again but only to let something disrupt it and from there things just went downhill. We played badminton with friends once a week, and that remained the only form of exercise for a long  time.

And then I got pregnant and I still continued to play badminton. But I had some complications with the pregnancy and then from then on, I was forbidden from any strenuous form of exercise. I went swimming once in a while and walked very often but that was it. After Pickles was born, however, I had no form of exercise at all. My only form of exercise was running for the bus and rocking him to sleep.

All that has slowly started to change. A month ago, I decided enough is enough and that I need more me-time. I started to go for a swim once a week with a friend. Then, this weekend, I went for a run in the morning, and it felt amazing! I ran while R walked Pickles in his stroller. I realized how much I miss the rush. And I want to do it more often. I am even contemplating joining a class, so I am forced to go but I fear it may be a bit too overwhelming and that I might give up something else. It's hard being a mom. It's bad enough to leave Pickles every morning and go to work. But doing something in the non-work time is another level of guilt altogether.  But I also think I owe this to myself and my sanity. Perhaps a run every weekend by myself, a kickboxing class maybe. But I'm hoping I can do more eventually. Wish me luck!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Jackdaws

For all of you who've been asking for the next part of the Escapade series, I'm sorry for taking so long but thank you for waiting. And trust me, the story will be worth the wait! If you haven't read the first part of the story, you can find it here.

So, there they were, all four of them, wondering what to do next. Now, the reality of the situation hit them. Tomorrow morning, they knew Uncle Chot would realize that Vee was missing and would immediately call their homes to find out what he could. They had to do something. They also had to make sure that none of their families found out, or they would all be in a lot of trouble.

"Let her stay here and we'll keep her hidden", Shee said.

'But for how long?!, Your parents will eventually find out and then what?", retorted Mee.

Everyone came up with ideas, only to be shot down by someone else. Finally, one thing was for sure, they had to get Vee out of town and to Bangalore and they had to do it without getting caught! The reasons for choosing Bangalore were simple: Vee and Mee had actually grown up there and had a lot more friends there who could help (or so they thought). Also, Vee's parents lived there. Vee was sure they'd be very happy to see her and would eventually come around to see her side of the story. Methodical as ever, they decided they would break the plan into little bits and take it one step at a time.

Part one of the plan was to convince Chot that they had nothing to with Vee's disappearance and also to keep Vee underground, until they could take her out of town. Specific instructions were then given to Vee and Shee. Sure, they could have fun but Vee could not be seen or heard by anyone else. Shee could go out of her room but Vee had to stay inside at all times. They were also not to let anyone inside the room. Shee had to also make sure she would herself answer all the phone calls that were made to her house, so that nobody would get the least bit suspicious. Soo and Mee had no phones in their homes (yes, it was that long ago!). So people would always call their neighbours' places and ask for them. The neighbours were of course nice enough to oblige as long the calls were not routine or didn't end in long conversations. Soo and Mee had to look out for phone calls to their neighbour's houses and make sure their parents didn't answer them.

Once their plan was made, they all hugged good night and Soo and Mee went home for the night. Everyone spent the night tossing and turning, thinking of what the next morning would bring.

The next day morning, as expected, Chot called Mee's neighbour's place. As Vee's best friend, she was the first one Chot suspected. Promptly, Mee went and picked up the call. Chot told Mee that Vee's relatives had not found Vee on the bus she was supposed to be on. He asked her if Vee had said anything to her. Mee feigned shock and concern over her friend's disappearance. Chot asked if he could speak to her in person and asked Mee to come over to their house to have a chat. He also called Shee's place to ask if she knew anything. Shee also played her role well and said she'd come over with Mee to see if they could help.

Shee left Vee hiding in her room and with Mee, went to Aunty K's place. They had discussed in detail what they should or should not say. At all costs, they had to stick to their story. Aunty K and Chot were very nice at first and seemed concerned but more about the fact that they would be held responsible for Vee's disappearance, rather than be worried about her well-being. They asked Mee, when she spoke to her friend, the last time. Very innocently, Mee replied that Vee had said good bye a couple of days ago and had forbidden them from coming to the bus-station. She also told Chot that Vee was unhappy about being sent off. They told Chot that they were very worried about their friend and would help any way they could.

Chot, who was initially very quiet and mild, got very frustrated that he was getting no information out of the girls and turned hostile. The girls still stuck to their story. Finally Chot threatened Mee, "I am sure you know more than you admit but if anything should happen to Vee, I will come and catch your neck!". Forever the loyal friends, they refused to budge an inch and just stuck to their story. Finally, Aunty K told them to leave and to call them immediately if Vee were to contact them. They assured Aunty K that they would and left.

The girls heaved a sigh of relief and quickly rode back to Shee's place and related the morning's events to Vee and Soo. They described everything in great detail and had a good laugh about Chot's threats and how they had got the best of him. Part one of their plan one was a success! Now on to plan two: Buying train tickets to Bangalore. be continued.

Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for Idli

We had idlis for breakfast today. I know those of you who know me, will be very very surprised. I used to be, until very recently a person who did not like idlis at all.

(For those of you who have never heard of them, idlis are a form of steamed savoury cakes, made with black lentils and rice. They are a very traditional south Indian breakfast, believed to be healthy)

From a young age, Idlis were just some of those things that I did not like. Home-made, restaurant-bought and made in any way/form, they were a no-no, except maybe the spicy rava idlis that Ma used to make. But yeah, white idlis and I were always miles apart. Whenever Ma made idlis for breakfast, I used to just devour copious amounts of the sambar she made with maybe one idli or two if I was caught. And the darshini idlis happened only when either one of us or Ma was sick. Since I was always assigned the duty of buying the idlis, I used to always make sure I had alternatives.

When I moved to Singapore, I remember having Sambar idlis at Komala's once and I just loved them. Maybe because it had a lot of ghee added, maybe because it was little idlis dunked in a lot of sambar or maybe it just reminded me of home. Still, I never liked the plain white idlis per se. But I became a lot tolerant to them. I guess that's what growing up does to you. You do love or hate anything with the passion that you did when you were younger.

When I married R, my mother-in-law bought me a set of idli moulds. Now, although I could tolerate them, they were never ever made in my kitchen. Although R doesn't mind eating them once in a while, he is not exactly a big fan. Another thing that discouraged me is the amount of washing involved after making idlis. I hated that my kitchen sink used to get full after them. So, the idli-moulds just sat in a corner of my kitchen, unused, for a very long time. They would get used only when either set of parents visited.

When I went to India this time with Pickles, Ma had made idlis. She decided that Pickles had to try some or he would be idli-deprived for the rest of his life. But to her conviction and my surprise, he really loved them. Then she made them another day, he liked them again. So, Ma made sure she had written and sent the recipe with me, just in case I feel like making them sometime. As usual, she was right! With my vision of making Pickles a good eater, I try and cook as many new things for him as I can. And one day I just made idlis for breakfast on a whim. Just the eagerness on Pickles' face was good enough encouragement for me to make them again. And again. And again. So, idlis are now a staple breakfast for us once a week. I don't even mind eating them so much now.

Motherhood has brought about a lot of changes in me. This is just one minuscule thing. Maybe I will tell Pickles this story when he grows up. I'm not sure how I'd take it though, if he begins to hate them the way I did when I was a kid. Will I be more tolerant and understanding? Or will I just make sure he eats them, whether he likes it or not? I'm not entirely sure. Only time will tell.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

H is for Hero(ine) worship

So, I was browsing through some tabloids the other day. It had pictures and stories about a lot of Bollywood stars. It got me thinking, there are a lot of these young actors today who are competing for the so-called number one spot. When I was younger (a lot younger!), of course there were a lot of actors and actresses too. But the debate for the numero uno spot was simple. Based on this, people were also broadly categorised under two classes.You were either a Madhuri Dixit fan or a Sridevi fan! It was as simple as that and there was no third option!

I remember having been a very ardent Madhuri fan. And my sister A, a fierce Sridevi fan. We used to have routine arguments about who was a better actress. Every time, a movie of one was released, our home would be a battlefield, leading to enormous headaches for Ma. The walls in our rooms were decorated (or rather destroyed) with umpteen posters of the respective actresses. If I got one poster,  A would go out and get two more. It didn't really matter who the better actress was. It was simply a battle of who was the better fan!

I also remember our wars got more intense sometimes and we would slyly tear out the posters in the others’ room. Ok, I’ll admit it, I was the nastier one. I remember having drawn a moustache and a beard on one of A’s favourite posters with a permanent marker. I don’t exactly remember why I did it. How much she cried after that?! She swore she would never talk to me again in her life! She did, though!

We had a good laugh about this a few days ago when we watched English Vinglish together. I loved Sridevi in the movie and I’m grown up enough to even admit it openly. So, I asked her “ I don’t really care any more but who is your most favourite actress today?”. “Why, Sridevi, of course!”, she said. A has now officially won the best fan award! And I wont deny her the title at all! In fact, if anything, I love her a little more for her loyalty even after all these years.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


For those of you who have actually heard of the book, I'm sure you either have babies or have grown up with this book yourself. The book is about a bunny who doesn't want to go to bed. So, he says good night to all the things around him. So he keeps saying good night and you hope your little one will doze off by the time he's done. I've heard a lot of parents who say that their kids loved this book. I wondered why!

It has lines that go something like this:

Good night comb and good night brush.
Good night Nobody, Good night mush!
And good night to the old lady whispering hush!

I find these lines almost eerie, don't you think! But Pickles too, for some reason, loves this book. Maybe it is the colour scheme of the book, alternating between black and white and colour. Maybe it is the rhyming words. I don't really know! Imagine my plight when I find Pickles actually smiling at the page which shows a blank white page saying Good night Nobody! Until I figured he was probably looking at the adjacent page which shows a bowl of food and a spoon saying Good night, mush. I think the food bowl seemed familiar to him and hence the smile of recognition.

But this post is also about something else. It is about the myth of parents putting babies to bed or rather scheduling sleep times for baby. The babies trick us into thinking that we put them to bed when in reality, they decide exactly when they want to sleep! They seem  to be thinking, "Take that, Gina Ford!"

I read a lot of books during my pregnancy. I wish Pickles had read at least a few of them. Because it seems like he knows nothing about what he is expected to do! He just does his own thing!
Coming back to sleeping habits, I had read that babies eventually get used to the rocking and it is best that they are not rocked when they are little. I followed this very diligently as soon as he was born for the first few months. I would snarl at anybody who as much as gently rocked the baby. I'm sure people thought I was crazy but in order to avoid the wrath of a sleepless mother, they all meekly agreed.

And then, one day, Pickles fell ill. He had some issues, due to which he refused to sleep. I tried everything and this little thing wouldn't as much as close his eyes. It was around this time that I got a new nanny. She offered to put him to sleep and sleep-deprived as I was, I handed him to her and went straight to bed. I woke up to the pleasant sight of a dozing baby. When I asked her, she said she had just carried him around and he had fallen asleep. So, after that, that is what we did. Eventually, even that did not work! Around this time, I had to go back to work. In my absence, I know the nanny rocked him to sleep a few times. I don't blame her. I know it is so hard to put my own baby to sleep. I can only imagine what it must be like to do the same thing for another's. So, there began the saga of rocking Pickles to sleep. At around the same time, I read an article that said it is ok to rock babies  to sleep and that will grow out of it as they grow slightly older. What it didn't mention, though,is the timeline.

After that, the nanny rocked him to sleep for his daytime naps. At night time though, I'm glad he fell asleep at my breast. So, I wasn't exactly complaining. As long as we all were happy, things were good.  Everyone else, however, thought this was a bad practice. I might have agreed if I was not on the other (read sleepless) side. If you want to judge, judge away but not until you've put my little  monster to bed at least once. My mother-in-law tsk tsked our putting-baby-to-sleep practices and vowed to make changes when she visited. She stayed with us for a month and tried. Eventually, she conceded and in fact started rocking him to sleep too.  When I went to India for a month-long-trip, my mum tried her hand at putting the baby to sleep in a lot of other ways. Nothing worked. In the end, rocking still rocked!

It has been a good one year now.  We have a good bedtime routine. We have a warm bath followed by a gentle massage. Then we read a book together, most often it is Good night moon! After that he is ready to drift off to la-la land. We still rock him to sleep but we don't have to, always! Sometimes, he just drifts off to sleep. I am hoping he will outgrow rocking to sleep soon. If not, I will just include it in my exercise regime!

PS: As I finished writing this, it occurred to me that I could have done this post for R : Rock-a-bye-baby. But, too late! I'm too pooped to write another one now!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Friends and Family

Family has been very important to me for a long time and has always taken priority over everything else. Needless to say, so have friends. I do not have 876554 friends on my FB profile but I have a few VERY good friends. In fact,  I can almost count them on my fingers. When I count my blessings,  I  would count my family and friends first. But I digress. This post is about something else.

When I was expecting Pickles, like all expectant moms, I had a plan. My in-laws were supposed to arrive at the end of the 8th month to have the baby shower and stay on until a week or so before the due date. My parents would arrive just as the in-laws would leave and then stay on for a couple of months. So, in any case, the plan was to have either set of parents around when the baby came. But Pickles, I guess, had other plans.

So, when I was somewhere in my 8th month of pregnancy and having a good time with friends, I thought I felt my amniotic fluid (water bag) leak and went to see my doctor at the hospital. Just to be safe, they admitted me and said I had to be on bedrest until the baby came. The baby, however, did not want me to be on bedrest for too long and arrived that very night!(more on that on another day). His arrival caught R and me totally off guard. We had not even decided on a name for him, not to mention, done any baby shopping for him at all. Since he was premature, he had to be in the NICU for a couple of weeks. I, on the other hand, was discharged the next day. I had no family around to help. I had a tiny baby in the NICU, who I had no clue what to do with. And I came back home from the hospital, minus the bump but without a baby. It goes without saying that I was terribly depressed.

I had no clue what I was going to do now. My parents couldn't travel immediately due to my dad's health and for reasons I can't remember, neither could my in-laws. In some sense, I was glad that Pickles was in the NICU, because had he been sent home, I would have freaked out because I had absolutely no idea how to take care of him.

When I came home, I had my friend, A, who did a small ritual to welcome me home, like my mum would have, had she been with me. I remember being so touched, that I held on to her and bawled my eyes out. She left after making sure I was ok and that I had food and after giving specific instructions to R about how to care for me. In the next few days, I went to A's place for several meals like she insisted. The only thing I kept doing was pumping breastmilk like I was advised to, every three hours, and promptly ferry it to the hospital, so that they could feed Pickles. It also helped that A lived closer to my hospital, so travelling back and forth was not so hard, between pumping sessions.

The next few days after that are like a crazy dream. Days just whizzed past with repeated daily visits to the NICU and trying to do some preparation to make  the home ready for the baby. It was at this point that my other friend P, who had her hands full with a 5-month old and another toddler, made sure she sent home-cooked meals for me. Not only that, she made sure she cooked nutritious food like she was given when she had just given birth. How she managed all this with two kids, is really beyond me. Even though I told her I was ok, she just kept sending food until the family arrived.

In between this, I had another friend, Sayesha, who went one step further. Because she lives far away from us, she decided she could not do much from being afar. She arrived with her little girl, Xena and stayed with us for a few days. She cooked meals for me, gave me moral support and also helped me shop for the gazillion things that needed to be bought for the baby. Since she had been through a similar ordeal, her being there provided a lot of comfort for me. At this point, I have to mention Xena, who was my personal stress buster. Having her around helped distract me from the yoyo of depression that I was going through.

Those few days were the hardest days of my life. Watching my little helpless baby in the NICU, dealing with the health issues that come with having a premature baby, dealing with the feelings of guilt that I was somehow responsible for his early arrival, all this was not easy. But I pulled through, thanks to my friends! Eventually, the in-laws arrived just on the day we were supposed to bring Pickles home. Later on, Sayesha even had a post-baby baby shower for me, because I had missed my baby shower. Do I have the greatest friends or what?!

I remember speaking to my mother everyday. She herself was feeling very depressed and helpless because she could not be there. And I would give her detailed accounts of what I ate and what I did etc. She always said "You are blessed to have friends like these. With them around, I'm sure you don't miss family at all." I am indeed blessed. I remember that when I came to Singapore, I used to think I'll never feel at home here. Now, I think, I feel at home and it is not because I'm used to the place. It is the people I met here, my friends, my family!

Monday, April 6, 2015

E is for Escapade

Would you believe me if I told you that I ran away from home when I was 15. I almost started to write out the whole story as it happened, when it occurred to me that I could make this more fun. I’ve made up some part of the story but most of it really happened. I will leave it to your imagination to figure what is fiction and what actually happened.

This story is about young girls from a small town in India. But our protagonists were anything but ‘small-town girls’. They were all of 15 years old. I spent a good deal of time thinking of a name for them; fearless (they were not!), fun adventurous (which they were) etc. but none of them did justice. In the end, I decided on ‘Jackdaws’. Like the birds,  they can easily be mistaken for normal crows but they are very different in being keenly inquisitive, high spirited and gregarious in nature. To be honest, the name is also inspired by Ken Follet’s book with the same name. In the book, the Jackdaws are an all female group of reniassance fighters. The girls I’m talking about had all the above characteristics and more. Let me first introduce you to the Jackdaws: I will just call them Soo, Shee, Vee and Mee.

Soo a.k.a the fearless one:
The most gutsy character of the group, she was almost fearless. She would stand up for her friends, whatever the cost. She was tall and pretty but on the flip side, a little daft as well.

Shee a.k.a the pretty one:
Very generous and kind hearted but because of which, she was super-gullible.
She was vain but also the prettiest of the lot. Born to a rich family, she had unlimited access to a lot of resources that the others didn’t.

Vee a.k.a the charming one:
Quite the charmer, she could talk her way through any situation. The story started thanks to her! Never one to follow rules, she was creative, fun-loving and a dreamer. She was the glue that held the pack together.

Mee a.k.a the smart one:
The most practical one in the group and the smart one as well. Always followed rules but the Jackdaws brought out the wild side of her. Extremely loyal and would always go the extra mile for friends.

The girls happened to meet in school. They got along like a house on fire and eventually got into a lot of trouble, both in and out of school. Soo and Shee grew up in the small town but Vee and Mee had both been brought up in the big city but had landed in the small town due to different circumstances. Now lets get to our story.

It all started when, due to family circumstances, Vee came to live with her aunt and uncle in the small town. Lets just call them the Evil Aunt K and Uncle Chot. Vee was very unhappy living with them. She hated the samll town and her aunt and uncle. She longed to go back to the city, to live with her parents again. Aunt K and Uncle Chot made life very difficult for Vee. But once she met the Jackdaws, life was bearable again. Aunt K and Uncle Chot did not approve of her friends and did all they could to stop her from seeing them often. Most of the adventures of the Jackdaws involved tricking and of course, making a fool of Aunt K and Uncle Chot.

One day, Uncle Chot told Vee that she to go to another city to visit her relatives. Vee suspected there was more to it than just ‘visiting’ although she did not know what. She suspected  that she was to be parceled off to another place but she didn’t want to leave her friends. When she voiced her dissent, he would have none of it. Her tickets had been booked and she would leave in the next two days. When Vee told the others, they were all heartbroken. She told them she didn’t want to go but she had no choice. They said their goodbyes and Vee told her friends not to come to the station to see her off, as Uncle Chot had warned her. He personally came to see her off to the bus stand, standing guard until the bus left.

Soo, Shee and Mee had decided they just had to say goodbye to their friend and see her one last time, no matter what. They stood hiding in the bus stand, and once the bus started, they started their bikes (I mean two-wheelers, not bicycles) and set off behind the bus. What followed was a very bollywood style bus-chase scene. Vee was so happy to see her friends but also sad that she was leaving them and waved goodbye. But the trio just kept following the bus. After about an hour, the bus stopped at the end of the town to pick up more passengers. The trio then went up to the bus and asked Vee to get off. Vee picked up her luggage and came down. By now, they were all in tears and in between hugs, they decided that Vee would just come back with them. And Vee did just that! And together, they just rode back to Shee’s place.

Shee’s home was a big place. She had a room to herself and could go in and out of the house without anyone finding out. So, quitely they all went there and plonked themselves on the giant bed in Shee’s room. Everyone was super happy and danced away for a while. Eventually, Soo and Mee had to go home. It was then that they began to realise the enormity of what they had just done. They had just helped their friend run away. The next morning, the relatives would call Uncle Chot and tell him that Vee was not on the bus. What now? Vee could hide here for a while but what after a few days. Uncle Chot would know they had smething to do with Vee’s disappearance and would come looking for her. They didn’t have a plan yet but they had to think of something. And fast!

To be continued.

Writing this post has inspired me to start a series called the ‘Escapades of the Jackdaws’. This is only part I of the story.