Monday, November 5, 2012

A pat on the head....

As a kid, I was at work on my first serious piece of art. I had successfully passed “Basics of scribbling” and here I was attempting to draw a snake and his lunch – a bowl of peas paying tribute both to the peas Amma had given me and to the visit to the Snake park earlier that week. Amma swings by and finds my snake at one end of the picture and the bowl of peas on the other end. She gently enquires, “Very nice, but how will the snake eat the peas?”. I realize the flaw in the picture. I immediately extend the snake’s “neck”, add a spoon to the bowl and also very considerately throw in a cup with handles with a beverage in it. Never mind that I didn’t factor the snake’s lack to dexterity to work with the spoon or the ‘handle’ in the cup.  But here it was, my first masterpiece .. a snake with a clearly distended and dislocated neck and his delightfully appetizing bowl of peas. Amma smiled, gave me a pat of my head and went ahead to preserve her little Pablo Picasso’s first piece of art, only to…. I think severely embarrass me by showing it to my friends through teenage and adulthood. I knew amma had a vicious plan….i should have seen it coming..

Here I am several years later, looking at Abhi’s drawing which seems to be a collection of fingerprints gathered in the shape of a tree or bush. I feel the need to preserve it. :)

But nevertheless, the pat had one effect…it encouraged me …to draw…and derive some sense of accomplishment as I drew. The pats I had received did not create any dents in the world of art, but nevertheless they have encouraged me to have a hobby that I could immerse myself in peaceful distraction …To that end, they were completely worth it.

And so, I shall write today about encouragement and support…the little pats on the head…

I am not implying that we need to make this world one big happy family that it probably isn’t. In a scenario of competitive evaluation, there is a need to preserve our winning advantage or protect the recipe for the secret sauce. But everywhere else, effective successful partnerships be it personal or professional involve us working together mindful of a common goal, valuing each other and extending that encouragement and support when needed. We often remember these when we are playing as a team or working as a team. But its equally and sometimes more important to mirror this spirit in personal lives too. We don’t thank as much, express our gratitude as much to the people most important in our lives for their presence and support.  Sometimes we need to thank them for just being themselves.

Learning on a job is not trivial. And here I am on one of my most important and toughest jobs that I have no clue of…Being a mother. There are moments of success, moving targets, forgotten glories, dealing with a very tough but small person, a whole big mess, déjà vu of cleaning all the time, getting acclimatized to voice frequencies only bats used to hear earlier and much more….and every mom reading this will relate to what I say.  

After a 2.5 hour battle with Abhi at his bath tub, I finally dressed him up…Abhi was pretty upset, I was too…Feeling sucked up of all energy, I sank into the couch silent, contemplative and stressed next to B who was thoroughly immersed in his new TV series. With Abhi next to me still in an angry and sad whimper, I slowly start ranting about how stressed I am and that ‘everyone else’ is happily watching TV while I still need to load the dishwasher and it goes on and on…With the TV paused, B turns around and gives me a little pep talk on how awesome a mother I am, how far I have come along, all the positive moments, and that we can go out for dinner :) ….and finally sweetly manipulates me to load the dishwasher while he finishes up with just a tiny ‘10 minutes’ of his TV show.  As much of sweet manipulation that it could have been, it served as the pat on the head, a reminder that someone is watching and stopped short to encourage.

Abhi doesn’t speak a whole lot…or as much as I want to hear him, but strangely in the last 5 days, he has been chanting two songs non stop “is-see bis-see pider” and “Appe-thi-thi-yee-yaw” …He hasn’t quite comprehended what ‘Piders’ are or what birthdays are or that Amma’s bday was coming up…But he sang his Happy Bday to you (also sounds as Appe-thi-thi-yee-yaw) to its full glory. It served as that pat on the head that something is going right.

Over the last couple of months, I have been preoccupied on several fronts…A big move, some new challenges and lots of uncertainty. I haven’t written much in this space. This post is in gratitude to an encouraging pat from a friend who stumbled on this page. Thank you!! :)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kitchen Counter wisdom!

Couldn’t help putting them down anyway..Have a and move on :)..

I started my cooking lessons early into middle school. I was amma’s sous chef doing all the chopping, peeling..and then she taught me the first practical lesson on ratios and proportions when I made a classic “kanji” (porridge)…when asked to cook some rice on a day she was unwell. Appa stirred in some pickle into it and literally drank the overcooked rice that evening. Amma always used visual estimates and not measuring cups and I blamed that for my culinary accident. Well, let’s say, from then the kitchen wisdom helped my math. Let’s also say my initial mysore pak attempts have been valuable contributions to structural engineering. And that Wrigley's signed an undeclared contract after a specimen of my halwa. So you are catching my drift with this right!….Cooking wasn’t the first of my passions or talents…But oh hell, so what… But from then to now, I have grown and graduated into a pretty good cook. …..I can’t still think of spending too much time in the kitchen if I am by myself. It feels like a chore. But cooking is something I have started enjoying lot more after having a family of my own. And that the family also enjoyed the cooking helped.

I am blessed with a picky eater like many other moms. He nibbles his way around things like a little squirrel and I end up experimenting in the kitchen to please my nearly 3 ft tall food critic. While at it, the kitchen counter has also been a place of learning life’s lessons…so to say, if u coexist with the tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and eggplants, get thrown into dishes, get swirled around in soups…it’s a little journey of learning, cooking and eating..:)..Hence presenting my Kitchen counter wisdom…

1. All elements have to go in ..the sweet, salty, the sour, the spicy ..But that’s what makes the soup flavorful.
We tend to hold on to the perception that life will get to a point of feeling all settled in and then we can then make the best of the time ….There shall be little problems, little things constantly throwing off the picture from the perfect setting. But in them is the learning and the experience. Life needs a little bit of everything for us to appreciate or cherish the good moments.

2. If you didn’t wait for the mustard to crackle, you are going to bite into a bitter seed.
Ever had a spoonful of a perfectly good dish, just to bite into a bitter mustard seed? Hot oil makes the mustard crackle, but once it’s crackled it seasons the dish. Sometimes you need to wait and get to hear the complaints, grievances and the crackling, because getting them out is better in the longer run.

3. Patience goes a long way.
Ever tried cooking for a party in a hurry and ended up spending more time fixing the dish than u did making it in the first place. Sometimes a little patience takes u farther and to a better place.

4. If there is too less salt, add it …If there is too much salt, don’t fret …use a potato to soak it all away
There are always solutions. More salt is always a more difficult situation than less…but there are still solutions. They may just not be obvious!!

5. A little lemon on the onion helps u tear up less.
I cry buckets while chopping onions…For those of u that don’t know, Bed Bath & Beyond carries ‘Onion Goggles’ which B bought for me to preserve his marital vows of not seeing me tear up!! But this little tip went a step further in holding the dam together. There is always a softer way to deliver a hard message. There are ways to retain the value of the message but reduce its acidity.

6. Dishes that tend to be sticky need to be stirred often. Else they’ll either burn or get lumpy
Some issues are sticky and complicated and our impulse leads us to avoid thinking about them purely because we are not sure how to fix them. When in reality all they need a little more attention and patience.

7. Baking makes the fruits sweeter.
Like baking brings out the flavor in several things, some experiences make u better, stronger and bring out your core qualities…Even the not so sweet blueberries taste sweeter when baked.

8. It's OK to start over again.
Sometimes over correcting a dish beyond a point does not fix it but makes it a bigger disaster. A mistake is a mistake. Acknowledge and start over again.

9. Perseverance pays off
From carving out continents on atta and seriously contemplating starting an Organic Frisbee business, I have come a long long way in these years and have improved my chappati’s in shape and texture.. I still hold my breath as it beautifully puffs up and bend down in curtsy. Like anything, some aspects of cooking need some perseverance if u don’t have the natural talent.

10. Forget the bad dish, don’t forget the lesson
The household kitchen table is a learning ground…a place of mistakes and lessons… a place to grow up. You are not expected to be perfect all the time. So make mistakes, forget the bad dish, but hold onto the learning.

11. End with a desert.
End with a positive thought…end a fight with a hug….A little sweetness in the end makes the whole meal worthwhile.

And lastly….

12. Murphy enters ur kitchen on the day you have invited a lot of people over for lunch
No comments on this!!

If u stayed with me through this, Thanks for reading…:)!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lost and Found!

Are there things you lose and find only to lose them when u need them most again. You see it all the time and just when u want it, it has magically walked out. I agree that u feel curious about my ‘old age concerns’ right now. But no, I am not yet that old and have no signs of amnesia temporary or permanent. Let’s just say I am a little jinxed.

I have been losing a lot of things lately….That I have a super active toddler at home is purely a coincidence!

For a week straight, I couldn’t find my office badge and in the process of getting a temp badge every day, I got to know my office security much better. As our ‘friendship grew’ ….You should just request for a new one he advised gently. ‘No, I am sure it’s in my house. I just need to find it over the weekend’…I replied …I did find it over the weekend very carefully sandwiched between the old car seat and its base into a groove where something a hairline thicker couldn’t have fit. Nevertheless I found it. The next week it was the phone. Mid-week I stopped even searching. I knew it was too safely stowed away to be found. Then I found it switched off and stuffed into a lil sock and buried into a bin of towels with utmost care. I also found that the Donald soft toy had two of the hair clips I had been searching clamped to his beak. When I have visitors at home, I have strongly started encouraging treasure hunt as an icebreaker. Also like pulling a rabbit out of a hat, pulling stuff out of the sides of the couch is added for special entertainment.

One of my favorite ear rings….one of a pair went missing. I was a little sad, it was a gift and I dint want it lost. Thankfully that was easy to find as I heard it rattle inside the dryer.

After a week of pulling up an empty wrist involuntarily to check the time, the last hunt was for my wrist watch. And I finally did find it in the fridge inside a cup of yogurt as I cleaned that out. Someone has been pretty thorough to tell u in mild terms. And the frozen yogurtized watch had stopped for obvious reasons. So I put it to rest in peace. That’s also why I have stopped buying anything expensive.

Amma advised me ‘U always have to have the bottom up approach…search at ground zero and move upwards. He is small, so search at his level first’ ….And this approach was working fine enough till someone got into a complete monkey business. Somebody has been climbing a lot and that’s not making the wild goose chase any easier.

Today’s was the kicker….My laptop was missing… :O!!…I could imagine a phone, trinkets, watches walking away in tiny hands….but a laptop..Oh hell NOO! Clearly flustered and wanting to get out of home on time, clearly panicked, I searched all over….under the couch, under every piece of furniture…It was a scene from CSI.. The crime scene had to be thoroughly searched and we had a SWAT team in place employing force and tact to the investigation…me, Appa and the nanny…while Abhi sat innocently watching the chaos and licking his sippy cup. Appa clearly wanting to pacify me suggests “why don’t u go to work and we will take care of this for u”…”Appa..thats my office laptop that is missing :O!” I squealed!!! We scrambled and squeezed ourselves into all corners ‘mission impossible style’ to locate it…Abhi was completely unfazed and getting his Santa Baby toy to squeal “I am a Santa Baby..wish u a merry christmas” in the end of March. And as we are combing down the apartment with military precision, a diaper situation called in for some breaks and re-strategizing. I put Abhi down and roll my hand into the Huggies box …to find it warm!! Warm….?!?..why warm!?.. I found the laptop slid sideways into the Huggies box warming up the diapers. With a little boy at home, I don’t have to search for adventure outside!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Stress Busters...

All of us have a degree of stress and our own ways to handle them…Sharing some of mine…

1. Turn on the humidifier with Menthol vapors…Even if u don’t have a cold or sinus…warm mist and menthol vapors have a tendency to calm u down
2. Maggi noodles… not the thousand variations of flavors, just the plain good old Maggi masala noodles.
3. Cuddling with my lil boy and tickling him into a giggle…its immensely relaxing
4. Listening to my favorite instrumental themes
5. Chocolate glazed Donuts ….Dark Chocolate too..
6. The tranquil mint Stress Relief lotion on my hands
7. Presence of the ocean….Sound of the ocean…if nothing else, at least ocean sounds from a sound machine
8. Music…gentle or peppy but definitely not sad…
9. Fresh cool breeze on the face…
10. A long drive …with no destination in mind…
11. Looking at photographs…
12. Talking to my favorite people..

So why suddenly….
I have been so stressed of late……There’s so much up in the air and a sense of helplessness and inability to either fix them or let go. Time is the key a friend tells me…U just have to wait something out. I understand that its true…but that’s the hardest part…how long is long ?....Have I or have I not waited long enough…? its getting hard to say that clearly..

At the bottom of it, one of the important ways to stay less stressed is to be flexible and mindful of the fact that a lot of things will not turn out the way you want for them to turn out.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The small joys!

Sometimes we are so self-absorbed in the big things and big goals that the little ones get forgotten...This week I had a gentle reminder to slow down. A reminder that didn’t come in a form I expected or desired. But in hearing something terrible happen to someone else. A single moment changes the course of life and life doesn’t always provide for a life jackets and parachutes to help u land safely. A single moment helps us realize how frivolous and superficial most aspects of our lives are and to focus on what really matters.
The little moments in life bring u the happiness. Not the big expensive vacations, not the big gifts...the little moments stay with you forever. The one moment of happiness is that anchor to providing the strength to withstand everything life has to offer.
May we learn to appreciate those moments and cherish them.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The morning cup of sunshine!

Woke up late…my alarm aka phone was completely out of charge…Opened the fridge to see that I ran out of milk. There was a tad bit just enough for Abhi when he wakes up…and I had a 9AM meeting which means I had just about time to shower, buy milk and drop it off at home and rush. And I was completely zoned out and out of energy. Abhi woke up in the middle of the night and insisted that he would only sleep on my shoulder and only with me walking up and down for the next 3 hours. And I have a boot up problem, without my morning coffee my brain won’t start.

And to add to this, I had to wash and dry my hair as well. Not that I have these long enviable tresses that demand lots of attention….But that day, I looked like I had dunked my head into Ali-Baba’s oil pot thanks to Amma’s long advise on skype the previous evening. So I had to wash it….And when I wash it on such a day and dry it in a hurry, I look like freshly electrocuted or something. (I apologize for the very disturbing image!!). Abhi woke up just in time to add to the chaos and I was warming up his milk and couldn’t find my scrunchie or clip to tie up the storm on my head. I quickly grabbed what I got from over the dryer and tied it. (I shall tell u “what” very soon, and also keep in mind; this is not how I get ready for work every day!!!)

The ice skin on my windshield was the next battle. The glacial pace at which this was melting and the poetry surrounding it didn’t help my BP. That I succumbed to the temptation of parking right in front of my apartment instead of the covered carport was biting me back. I am normally a friendly person, but I think I almost barked a quick bye in response to a surprised neighbor’s pleasantries. She is possibly not going to talk to me in the near future!

I was then standing at the Whole Foods counter when the cashier checked out my milk with a broad grin ….I just thought he was a pleasant guy having a great start to the day, unlike me of course!! This was till he blurted out in a half-giggle “Do u have a socks on ur head???”…Aww, great…that was what I grabbed..i thought it was one of those thin scarves!! And this pleasant cashier was having a great start to that day thanks to me!! Silver Lining: At least I didn’t walk into a conference room full of people with a stocking on my hair.

Then I found parking in the next zip code I think …and scrambled down checking the meeting room while my phone was breathing its last on the one drop of charge that I managed to squeeze into it that morning.

I paced myself through the meeting trying to sound half intelligent. As I mentioned, I have some start up trouble without the early morning fuel. My colleague had a candid and not to mention “timely and appropriate” sense of humor, “Do u want a hat?” he asked!! No, I actually preferred a bucket, so that I could hide my face as well.

Dashed to the coffee machine right after that to find it out of order…..Made do with chai instead.

I also made some interesting and far from happy discoveries through the day. That all the stuff I ran the last evening had to be re-done because it was not the correct setup. And everything either refused to work or worked when it wasn’t supposed to. It seemed all my little failures were lining up in front of me.

After a friend pointed out, I realized Abhi had left in some of his “pappu-mammu and beans ka” paw marks from the last evening on my fleece jacket. For those who don’t know ….turmeric is one of the stubborn stains to remove….Not wanting to look like someone homeless and also not wanting to reveal intricate details of my son’s dinner to my work world, I took off the fleece jacket…and roamed around like it was mid-summer. Only that it didn’t feel like mid-summer.

I checked my email; one of my close friends chose this day to tell me how angry she was at me for not returning her calls. Felt downright miserable by now. I wanted to get the stuff out of the way and the day out of the way. It was gloomy and pouring outside and all I wanted to do was finish my work and hide in the closet.

B’s email with a gentlest of reminders on two things I needed to finish was replied in a snap with an ‘I am stressed, the world is on my shoulder’ type of response …enough to make him retract and go “its Ok, its Ok, it’s not important. Take care of the other stuff”…I wish I could pull that off with everyone else ;) ;)

Having a dozen to-do’s and follow ups to catch up on, I finished what I could and drove home. It was like having an giant octopus sitting on my head pointing in all possible directions. Abhi was well rested and ready to greet me onto my second job.

My recipe for a bad day was to lounge down for some sitcom therapy…with our TV boxed up for close to two years now (I record that as an achievement!) that wasn’t possible. Abhi’s annoying fascination with replaying talking tom’s version of chammak challo non stop was not helping. Not that I like the original, but the cats version of it is pure unadulterated torture!! He then tore up the dosa I made for him into a million pieces, rolled them into tiny balls and lined them up against the wall. My energizer bunny also wanted to climb all over the sofa and dive down. After some long drawn chasing and feeding I was finally done with his dinner, and I settled down…

I wanted to cheer myself up. Buzzed some of my favorite people and most of them were busy or unavailable. Finally just as I was about to close shop and crash when my friend buzzed back.

X: Hey, u OK?
Me: Nope, I am down in the gutter, make me smile.
X: make u smile or make u laugh?
Me: Is that a choice??? Make me die laughing!!

In the next 15 minutes, I smiled, giggled, laughed…and the day seemed OK…a little bad, but far from how I felt a little while back…The baggage on my head felt a little lighter…Thank God for the internet and my friendly angels!!

Surprisingly Abhi slept like a baby that night….a real baby that is! I caught up with my sleep and the next day was definitely a better one.

Moral of the story: Don’t miss ur sleep, if u have no choice on that, don’t miss ur morning coffee!

Friday, January 6, 2012

One step at a time....

A year ago I wrote about how me and my little son started our baby steps and our wobbly walking…2011 has seen us climbing ….all over the place…I squeal to him every time he challenges himself to jump up multiple steps, in fear of him tripping or tumbling down..”One step..don’t u jump…one step at a time..” And I have been telling myself the same thing all through this year. Sometimes we all are impatient and try to jump multiple steps with the hope that the destination is closer… There are times when having a plan or looking a little ahead doesn’t seem to work as well as being in the moment and let every moment pass by one at a time…

2011 started for me in mid-air in a flight with the flight attendant announcing the break of the new year. I was travelling alone with my 9 month old to India feeling incredibly nervous and anxious about the journey. Why so? Ask any mom boarding a flight with a baby that’s figured out the wonders of mobility. Strapping them down is like trying to hold a mouse in your hand. Sleeping, watching movies, reading books or spacing out in thought was no longer an option…A wink of sleep if at all was honestly a blessing.

My single fellow passenger who took the adjacent seat was absolutely delighted with the extra leg room till he realized he had no chance of overhead bin space around the family seating area. He calmed himself down and gave the babies, toddlers, kids all a stern look while they smiled back at him sweetly…extra sweetly as if to say “Stare all u want buddy, just u wait!”..I watched the myriad of emotions on his face as his happiness over the extra leg room faded when a glorified cardboard box in a frill frock – a bassinet was stuck in front of him and he looked eye to eye with a very naughty baby. Abhi politely even offered to share his pacifier to help! My fellow passenger moved through the 5 stages of grief over his 10 hour plight to be surrounded by 3 babies in his row…denial, anger, negotiation, depression and finally calm acceptance as if in knowledge of the cycle of karma that led to this day, this moment…He smiled back towards the end of the journey and introduced himself, had a small chat, double checked his next boarding pass to make sure he was not again in the family seating area, waved abhi a buh-byee and left. May his peace stay with him!

As for me, I desperately tried to put a tired, cranky baby to sleep amid all the star wars lighting. When overwhelmed, I told myself one hour at a time…When he refused to sleep and I walked down the aisle sleep deprived myself, catching the stuff/toys/pacifiers that went flying around. The good side was that in that process I had made enough friends by the end of the flight, and there were more people staring at me out of sympathy than irritation. As I arrived at the airport …Amma jokingly commented “Unna naalu per adichu potta madhiri irukku” translated as “It looks like 4 people bashed you up”…”It was one person Amma, one little person” I replied gladly offloading the precious bundle to the much thrilled grandparents. One hour at a time and the day long journey was survived.

From there on, it’s been an interesting year…and has led me to believe that what you do on the new year day does indeed set the tone for the whole year :)

I found a new job in a city I least expected to be in…and sooner than I thought. Cross country hopping with a one year old to a new city without B around was overwhelming in its own way... Should I take it up, could I manage, how will I do this…after numerous questions, none of which were completely answered ….a commit point was reached. It was just a leap …no.. a bungee jump of faith. Settling into a new city was a tough …There are moments when I sank down and thought if I bit off a lot more than I could possibly chew. Moving and settling in has a lot of detail management involved and my brain seemed to have shrunk. Re-discovering the world from your child’s eyes and appreciating the little things around you and experiencing one of the most unconditional of relationships developing makes it one of the most gratifying experiences. Yet sleep training, handling a picky eater, toddler moods and fussiness …brought a new experience every day. Some blissfully whizzed past in poetry and some days felt like banging against a brick wall. It was hard to predict much less plan what the next day would offer. And hence every day was spent one day at a time.

Abhi seemed to have fallen in love with every bug in town. The fact that I could understand more and more of the tongue twisting medical lingo that my doc bro was throwing at me was disturbing. Dealing with weeklong toddlers sickness, praying for every cold, cursing every virus…and celebrating the end of every sickness with quiet calm relief, baby chatter and a side of maggi. Through moments of feeling very lonely to feeling more hopeful as normalcy returned…., every week was survived…one week at a time.

The last year has been a lesson in patience…Not saying I am way more patient now than before…but that’s just a reflection of how good a student I am than of the lesson itself. Patience is to hold on and persist in efforts when it’s hardest to do so. Its waiting the longest and hardest you can for something and then deciding to wait longer...Like the donkey in Shrek…I found myself repeatedly asking “Are we there yet?”

Patience with others is Love, Patience with self is Hope, Patience with God is Faith. - Adel Bestavros

December was a promised month…A 3 week vacation from school was a huge huge bonus compared to the 1.5 day long cross country trips every month. I was peacefully occupied in the kitchen trying to make something fit for the moment and Abhi and B are chattering away with no clue of what the other person is talking about….nothing fancy, nothing fantastic to do..and yet there was a quiet contentment and happiness and the urge to make time stop right there. December was like the slide in the playground..after a yearlong climb up the stairs, now we could whoosh down without holding, relaxing and glad to let go of everything……So in the promise of December, midst the numerous vent outs, tears, hang-in-there’s, baby-sickness-blues….the months flew…one month at a time.

Not to say that this was just a tough year… But it has been a beautiful year in seeing my lil boy grow up…. This year has taught me patience while it’s not all figured out, taught me to hold onto what I care about when I just feel like giving up and to be present in the moment. It has taught me mental acceptance of everything that’s different from what I hoped for it to be. It’s given me some new dear friends…and made me treasure moments with my family. Happy moments zip past; it’s the tougher ones that teach you something.

So 2011 has passed on one hour, one day, one week and one month at a time…Now I am sure of one thing……No more new years on a plane!

Happy New Year everyone! May this New Year bring love, laughter and the company of wonderful people to share it with!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hue is it ?

No, I am not clinically color blind...Actually my vision is pretty good…color wise and other wise…I am the resident expert at home to pick that right shade of paint to mask the blotch on the wall. But I am verbally challenged when it comes to colors…I can’t name them!!

To make it worse, I am strangely surrounded by men who are spectrum experts. Let me explain…

We are cramming in my team with a deadline and I get a high importance flagged email the last minute from a colleague with a spreadsheet attached and a single line. “All the cells highlighted in fuchsia need to be removed from the test chip”. I open the spreadsheet and see at least 19 different colored highlights. “Fuchsia??!! Which one of these is fuchsia??, How am I supposed to recognize fuchsia with a gun on my head and a deadline tomorrow”. Thank God for Google. He could have just called it pink and not named it like a Japanese tree!

I have a color cop right at home. B introduced me to the color espresso. It’s the dark black-brown shade which I end up picking for furniture. Only that I never called it espresso or compared it with coffee beans.

My colleague gets a new Lexus and I am like this school kid telling B everything that happened at work while he maintains his highly programmed nod every 10 seconds. And I am talking about the car, B suddenly asks “oh, cool, what color”…”Dark red”, I reply, happy that he is actually listening :). B didn’t lift his head or bat an eyelid. His attention was 10% with what I was talking about and 90% onto his Ipad. But he replied in a snap “Burgundy” before I could even complete my thought …”Hunh?” I respond, “Burgundy is the color” he clarified and continued teasing his new toy. I wished I at least said maroon instead of dark red!!!

I am at a nearby furniture store looking for something and check with the store assistant. Sorry about stereotyping, but he was this 6 ft tall burly looking guy and I hardly expected to have this conversation with him. I ask him for what I need and he goes “Ohh, you go down this aisle and do u see those couches, by those..” he quips…”By the brown couches?” I point and ask to confirm. “By the butterscotch ones, not the tan ones” he replied quickly circling my color insensitivity. ‘Butterscotch???!!, are we discussing ice cream or color???’ ..I think to myself and walk down trying to eye closely the difference between butterscotch and tan and trying to explain to myself why they couldn’t be called brown!! While I am at this distracted from my actual shopping, the next store assistant comes up to me “Need help with something”. I am instinctively thinking ‘Maybe I should pop quiz this guy ..which one is butterscotch, which is tan….maybe I will put him in a spot and feel better…maybe it was just one freak show’…Trying to look very educated about the topic, I start asking him about the hues and shades. Sadly he knew it, and started talking one step ahead about some color texturing ‘Damn!! ‘

Maybe it’s a generational shift…maybe by some complex code of evolution, men picked up the 256 color detecting gene and women dropped it. Maybe all women are now like me verbally-color-impaired…As fate had it…to answer my question, I had to talk to my friend who was getting married and in the middle of her shopping …., We get into the deep discussions of her reception attire and the conversation tosses around the accessory-matching-miseries and color coordination involving shades of violet, purple and indigo. That drove me to my fragile tipping point.

It’s just me, me alone in this twilight zone, color illiterate.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Never mind the elephant, let’s just talk...

Two is a company, three is a crowd…especially when the third person is a huge elephant sitting by your side and cramming into your conversation uninvited. You are jammed into a corner deprived of space, and obviously uncomfortable to be your natural self and yet have to appear completely oblivious to the huge companion because no one else sees him. Or they don’t want to admit they know he is there.

Sometimes, do u worry about how the very obvious things are ignored or set aside and people talk as if they came out of a bubble in space with no memory whatsoever of anything that happened earlier. The mammal weighs its way into the conversation or discussion and is flat out ignored.

What’s prompting me to write this is more of inter-personal situations where sometimes there is reluctance to address things explicitly, clear the tables when needed, and have the conversations that need to be had.

Wish life was like movies… the way movies end…a dozen happy faces, all good people prevail, all loopholes closed, all questions answered, all issues settled, there is bliss and the hope of continued bliss and “The End” flashes in front of it… well, unless there is a sequel and the tiny hint they throw at u…No matter how clichéd that sounds, we have no open ends gnawing into our mind..

Truth is things aren’t so and without a worried director to close things and explain the unexplained for us…we need to do it ourselves…set things straight…Some questions will never get asked and some will never get answered.

What then stops us from having an honest conversation…and not beat all around the bush hoping to rattle a poor bird when the elephant is still sitting by our side with a smile? What makes us ignore him….Fear to deal with issues sometimes leading to the denial of their existence. Or ego wherein we know they exist, we know they must be addressed, but it hurts our ego to be making that explicit effort for whatever reason.

The problems that I see existing in such communication are…

Pretending that a problem doesn’t exist when it does…This is not helping anyone. Problems just don’t go away or resolve themselves. Inaction is not a solution though it’s often an easier option. The perception that there is no real necessity to fix something that’s not totally broken and need driven band aids can help keep things together needs to change.

Subtlety is a bigger devil than inaction. A conversation with subtexts hints at something, but these hints are perceived differently by different people and can be completely and totally misinterpreted. With people we love, we push ego’s aside and reach out to resolve the differences, we reach out in case they don’t and we explain till they understand. The underlying value of the relationship is much more than the assumed correctness of our opinion. But in relationships where that trust and understanding remains to be established, the challenges come in, ego plays a bigger role and things are further muddied by subtlety. A complex implied and subtle communication with subtexts flying around needs to be correctly interpreted and addressed.

Don’t let the elephant stay in for too long….he then becomes like family…its harder to show him the door. He’s now become so much a part of the conversation that we feel downright guilty to even get rid of him.

Our huge companions need an audience. We have a small room and the only way they are going out and giving us back the space is if they are addressed. Be it professional or personal conversations, sad attention seeking elephants in the room cannot help us move ahead or decide anything sensibly.

So the next time there is an elephant in the room, in the conversation…show him some respect…Address him if u need to set things straight.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Aeeeeiooooo !!!!

Right after college with a lot of time to spare, I found myself getting a membership to British Council…The pretext and intent was to browse for grad school info, SOP tips, resume tips and also have some step-out-of-home time.. I would come down there every day, hang in till around lunch and then get back home….Not completely sure of what my purpose was but to kill time…That’s where I met M……M brought her 5 yr old son Vinay every day and studied while he got busy with his books. A cute little child with a wink and a naughty smile ....his little eyes spoke for themselves, he was a handful. As adorable as I found him, I now understand why M was so exasperated. Being a mom is always different. Vinu’s company was the most welcome distraction for me and M was always more than relieved to see me. So it worked both ways. My British Council visits increased for no technical reason whatsoever. I just enjoyed being there. It was a bubble to escape into, distract me from what’s ahead in my own life and my own little confusions….

A month of these library trysts later, Vinay and I are busy picking the next story book to read...when suddenly Vinay says “I love you”…My jaw drops and I am looking at the cutest being ever that has said that to me …and he smiled and continued with his matter of fact like nothing just happened :)!! Guys..i tell u…even these tiny ones have no idea of how they let ur heart flutter :)…M’s parents came to Chennai to help her out in the next few months, her British council visits stopped…and I lost interest in going to the library myself…

It’s been several years …I email M once in a while and she has managed to set herself on a great career……and Vinu has forgotten me and moved on to the real things in life …And I miss those times….those library visits.. :D!....But isn’t that life !!

The last couple of weeks have been pensive, thoughtful and difficult for several reasons…The one person I can call anytime and bother has also been busy with his studies….and I have busied myself with sketching… escape into a bubble again…

Then on Monday, my nanny called in sick and I had a super active toddler with a cold, lots of work to finish and not the best of spirits to handle. One at a time …one at a time …I tell myself as I finish work, chase him down for each meal, put him to sleep, reply to emails, finish the action items….and I felt overwhelmed…

Towards late evening he was tired, I was tired …All the skype calls for the day were over…We settle in quietly and talking tom gives us company…One thing leads to another and Abhi and I are on a giggle train…I am hugging him, swinging him, kissing him ..and I said “I love uuuuu”…and we chase each other around the couch for the next 5 minutes. Then suddenly Abhi is looking at me with his sweet few toothed grin and says…”Aeeeeiooooo”…It was the most beautiful moment….Most endearing…

My lil son just told me his first “I love you”…i think :) ..Dear dear crazy world, I am ready for you again!!