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Monday, November 26, 2018

Bicycle Diaries..

Is 2018 almost over already? That’s like 365 days of my life I royally wasted planning to do something worthwhile. I am unable to recall doing anything productive with my life apart from writing codes and being on the core team for a successful go-live of a huge project, but this cannot be called as an achievement. So basically what did I do?  I ignored my health more than any other year. (Insert sarcastic applause here). Sometime in January, the procrastinator in me decided to document the to-do list for 2018 “later”, and that “later” never came so I have conveniently forgotten them. One point I can faintly remember was to learn to ride a bicycle.

I drive car in India and Oman but riding a bicycle has always been a challenge. Fortunately, knowing how to ride a bicycle was not a prerequisite to get admissions or jobs or to get married :D Dreaming about riding a bicycle itself was out of my league, thanks to my super conservative but highly educated parents. We were living under a rock of old-school beliefs. So my bicycle dreams did not fly during my childhood, in fact it dint even hatch. I wasn’t allowed to go to school excursions nor did I visit the homes of any friends, let’s all piously observe a few seconds of silence for that.

Image Courtesy: Here
In early 2018, I decided to learn to ride a bicycle. Now this was a decision which had several dependencies. Firstly, there should be a bicycle. Secondly, there should be a person who has time and interest to teach. Thirdly, I should initiate to learn. The first two were not hard to find but the third one was quite a Herculean task. So my seven year old had been asking for a bigger bicycle and his Dad bought him one which was only one size smaller than a normal adult bicycle.

Last evening we were at the park as the little one wanted to ride it outdoors. Suddenly this thought struck me – I wouldn’t look too big on this one! All my three prerequisites have been met, my stars have aligned and the Universe has conspired to realize my dream. So what am I waiting for? The boys were discussing the gears on their new toy with joy and enthusiasm when I dropped the bomb on them- ‘Can you teach me too ?’

My question was met with mixed reactions. My son’s expression was something like ‘Is she serious? Would she fall and ruin my new bicycle ?’  The spouse was looking around and had an expression like ‘Are there any hospitals nearby…’. After few minutes of dramatic silence, they both mentally aligned to agree. I sat on the bicycle, and the spouse caught it from behind the seat. ‘Keep pedaling!’ they said. I was scared to ask them to click a photo (what is the point of doing something out-of-the-box and not updating on Instagram?). My son was excited as opposed to my expectations. He proudly watched me cycling my dreams away.

The next ten minutes I got support from him, and after that I was on my own. It was such an exhilarating experience, to ride without any help and to be able to strike off at least one row from my bucket list. I have no words. I never got such satisfaction whenever I activated my code without any errors. I never found such happiness even when I was appreciated for my work at office.

Last but not the least, the priceless expression on the faces of my boys gave me goosebumps.
The expression was something like “This bicycle is done with”.

Monday, October 15, 2018

The price of Stress.

Stress is a fireball that burns holes everywhere it hits, including the pocket.

Work has kept me on my toes all month (and year, and the year before), and stress sucked all my creative juices that the only thing I write now is Code. The pressure to drag myself into unreasonable deadlines manifests itself into many glorious ways, like annoying everyone around on purpose. Anyone trying to get in my way gets showered with words I have handpicked to celebrate the auspicious occasion of my stressful life.  So one fine morning, the spouse became the victim and then what happened next, sky-rocketed our family expense graph out of the frame.

I went straight to the jewelry shop and bought that gold pendant I’d been eyeing for quite some time. Someone is legally available to be annoyed by me, so why should we waste the opportunity? So Ms. Stress heaved a sigh of relief and evil-laughed at the spouse. This laugh later echoed into my entire month as it was just one week into September and I had already depleted all resources. Gold is too costly to be bought at the spur of a moment, my dear friends and Ms. Stress is pure evil. Coming to think of it, I could have bought diamonds, at least I dint do that right?

The same week, I had further differences within my work circles and lost my sanity yet again. This time I headed to the mall and bought a top. There was a sale and the top was beautiful. So now it is evident that the finances of my family rest solely on the demeanor of my colleagues. After all the hasty purchases I made, I never felt guilty for what I bought. The pendant looks so lovely that any female with a good sense would appreciate me for the classy buy. Actually they’d ask me what I drank before heading to buy it rather than whether I was really stressed ;-)

Image Courtesy: Here
Apart from money, there are other ways one pays for being stressed. I just have to run my fingers through my head once, and voila ! there’s a bunch of hair in my hand! One pays for stress with hair. Like I wrote earlier, my parlor lady has slashed her prices for hair treatments specifically for me, as she does not have to work too hard in my case. My friend said she could see my scalp from the elevator when I was climbing the stairs. There is light reflecting from my scalp in some of my selfies. So in the weekend I headed to the hairstylist again and asked her whether there is any way to not let the world know that I have no hair. She nearly cried and gave me a pretty reasonable haircut, but yeah the scalp can still be seen. And you who saw it from the elevator – get a life!

Sigh, and end of day when I go home, hair or no hair, there is my little son-shine, who can wipe out any stress effortlessly. ‘Amma you’re my best friend’ he said-just before revealing that he lost his new pencil, eraser, color pencil pouch and English notebook all on the same day.
But, who cares! I am his best friend yoohoo!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Hair and Teeth Fiasco

Life sometimes gets ridiculous to the point that we actually pay people to insult us. Every person we pay for any services whatsoever, feel the need to pass on those precious pearls of wisdom, also known as free advice. Truth be told, no one appreciates a third person holding a magnifying mirror to our flaws.

So of late, my dentist and hair stylist have collectively gone on a mission to embarrass me. One busy day I was munching some nuts at work, when a smart nut felt adventurous and decided to explore the remotest gap within my tooth. I tried to push it out using my tongue, which got bruised in the process. Later 562 toothpicks failed in the same mission. Finally I was forced to book an appointment with my dentist, whom I was trying to avoid for the past few months. My teeth had other plans though.

She has the most amazing chair at her office. This chair, almost like a modified recliner, which has everything from a mirror to lights to a multi-purpose mini table attached to it, is one of the reasons I go to her. She was happy to see me; she knew the history behind every one of my teeth, as she has pulled out few and performed root canal in others. All my teeth seemed to say hi to her. She examined my tooth which had the embedded nut, and unleashed her sharp weapons to start excavation which lasted a few minutes until the nut gave up and decided to come out.

She then said ‘Anita you need to get it filled, else the same can happen again’.

I asked ‘This one?’ pointing to the tooth which just parted with the nut.

She replied ‘Honestly, if you ask me, it is not just this tooth. There are a multitude of other teeth which needs to be filled’.

Her assistant stifled a laugh. Until then, that dude was peeping into my mouth as though it had a hidden treasure deep inside.

‘Okay’, I mumbled.

Dentists are brutally honest, I tell you. And about this dude who laughed. I hope he finds his treasure somewhere else.

Later in the week there was an official event for which I had to blow dry my hair.  I called the stylist and got an appointment. I have been going to her for a long time and she is aware of the fact that I used to have thick voluminous hair once upon a time. I sat on her chair. Earlier she used to part my hair into three or four sections and blow dry each. Something like a divide and rule process. She combed and ran her fingers through my hair and gasped, ‘What happened to your hair?’ with an exasperated expression.

Image Courtesy: Here
I felt I owed her an explanation even though it was my hair , it rests on my head and it carries the DNA of my family. I explained that my project gave me no time to come home, forget maintaining hair and skin. She took a smaller comb and as usual divided my scalp into four sections. She clipped the first section only to realize that the other sections were not needed. Meanwhile her floor was full of my hair from the first and only section. “Two more sessions like this and you will be bald” she happily warned me. Actually it was my fault to think that my hair qualified for blow drying. She did not charge me at a usual rate, and added
 “For your hair you can pay half or less for any hair services”.

Yeah. Even the dentist may say the same thing soon once all my teeth are extracted.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

How much is too much?

I dint update my blog in the month of April, considering the fact that  I had updated twice the month I gave birth in 2011. No I did not give birth to quadruplets in April, just that some software projects sucked the life out of me and is only a tad less uncomfortable than childbirth.

Before I go into whine mode let me say that I love my job, colleagues and the space and recognition I get professionally. I am very much loved around here and get to laugh a lot. I love to write software codes, my work is not repetitive, I get to face a lot of challenges, my boss is cool and I feel blessed by all this.

That was a disclaimer that leads to the fact that in IT, one is expected to work regardless of time of the day, day of the week, gender, marital status, weather conditions, earthquake alerts, flood, political situations, bad health and the fact that you are a human being. I haven’t had a proper weekend in a long time and now I am in a ridiculous situation in which I am wondering what I did on weekends when I had them.
To be honest, working on weekends and then going back to work when the week starts feels MEH.  Meh is an understatement, actually. Man there should be a day when one is not expected to wake up and show up, right? A day I can sleep peacefully until I rise on my own, without any evil external forces trying to barge into my happiness. By evil external forces, I mean my family. Honestly, I love my family but my idea of ‘taking an off’ or ‘letting my hair down’ or ‘taking a break’ involves switching off the wifi and data, and lazing on the couch watching TV or sleeping ALONE without any disturbance whatsoever. It is completely harmless right? I am not asking anything of anybody.

 I am not a foodie, nor do I feel hungry every now and then. Neither am I a cleanliness freak so I don’t shower five times on a weekend. I don’t sing, dance or make noise.I don’t harm anyone on purpose. I am not crazy about gold, diamonds, cars or property (not because I don’t have the money).  I don’t pollute the environment in any way nor do I use any non-renewable resources. I am highly eco-friendly. I just want to do nothing on the sofa.

This is another idea of "taking a break!"
Image Courtesy: Here
Not getting ten official calls less than five minutes is luxury. Not having to check emails and not having to reply to them with a solution in less than an hour is luxury. Sleeping knowing that the alarm is off for the next morning is luxury. Peace is expensive. Being able to laugh to Tom and Jerry cartoons is luxury. Sigh.

My luxury may not be your luxury, but my idea of taking a break is very reasonable. I want to be left alone with TV, sofa and electricity to run the AC as it is freaking hot here. Oh and some wine would be good. And a Thai masseuse. And a Bose speaker that plays my favorite songs on loop.

Is this too much to ask?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Corporate Survival for Dummies.

No one ever enthusiastically came out of a meeting and said ‘Wow! That was life-changing!’ unless they got fired in that meeting. The IT sector is not as cool as the air conditioned cabins we are stationed in.  Sometimes elaborate mails are received which are too much to make head or tail of. You read it, and read again, and again, still no clue. You see the list of people to whom the mail has been sent to, and look around to see their expressions. This is one of the best forms of entertainment in the IT department. There should have been a meeting to discuss that rocket science of an email but some mastermind decided not to.

On other days, there are meetings which are long and completely unnecessary after which you feel like a month passed by and it is time to do eyebrows again.

Image Courtesy: Here
However in my case I do not go prepared for any meeting. I am not proud of it though. I check with my boss whether my presence is absolutely necessary. If she feels I should participate, I make a guest appearance. My public speaking skills are as good as Varun Dhawan’s acting skills, so my boss does not drag me in unnecessarily. My strongest skill is the ability to write email. If anyone tries to ruffle my feathers, they stand the chance to receive the most elaborate, shrewdly worded email, with screenshots, bullet points and hints of sarcasm that could be nominated to The Literary Award for Emails. This has not deterred anyone from picking bones with me but my email attack is never mild. There will also be atleast ten people it would have been copied to. At some meetings, if you could listen to what I am talking inside my head, you will be blown away by my incompetence on the verbal front.

I like to watch my colleagues bring books, pens, ipads or laptops to meetings, and how they take these discussions seriously. They fiercely debate over topics, disagree aggressively but leave the room holding hands or making jokes. I mean, how is this possible? When I have an official argument with a person I’d be secretly planning to screw his life.

Then there are legends that arrive with punch dialogues. Like for example I put forth a suggestion and they say “There are four disadvantages to that option”. I wouldn’t have finished saying my suggestion and they have already counted four counter arguments! FOUR! I am completely NOT in awe of such people. How did he possibly come up with four points before I finished talking? Basically, there are only 3 points - the 1st and 3rd are the same, they are just worded differently. The second point is not related to the topic.

So the moral of the story is that if you want to be taken seriously inside the air conditioned glass cabins:

1.      You should have that confidence to say in a forum, ‘I have three points to add’ when you actually have none.

2.      Argue with a person on their field of expertise in a language and tone of speech that bowls over the entire panel.

3.      When someone talks logically and you don’t know what to reply, smile sarcastically as if you knew what he is talking ten years ago.

4.      When someone brings up an idea, immediately spring up from the chair and claim that it was your idea and that you were about to say it (then what held you back you moron?)

5.      If you are not the boss, ACT like one. Laugh only at the boss’s joke. Ignore the jokes of everyone else.

6.      Never keep your phone on silent mode, and answer your calls (most likely from the credit card section of the bank) with an expression like Trump called for a mission to save the planet and walk back in after the smoke in the meeting has subsided.

7.      At any point of time, maintain the constipated expression.

Looks like I could go on and on and publish a book about ‘Corporate Survival for Dummies’ (written by a dummy who is still trying to stay afloat) but honestly, my department is bursting with ideas to write more!
Let me go back to work now, I have an email to compose ;-)

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The best place to yell.

Teaching a story to a six year old for his story telling competition after returning from crazy work days is like sticking my head into a beehive. Especially with my curious son who has a thousand questions to ask starting from the origin of the story and the author. Humpy the camel walked down the desert with his mother. ‘If Humpy is the name of the baby camel, what is the name of the Mama Camel?’
‘Her name is Anita..! ANEEETAAAAAA…!!!!Now can we proceed?!!!!!’  -

The doctor next door would have definitely heard this. Next time I visit him at his office, he will start writing out a prescription without asking any questions.

My edgy responses laced with sarcasm, shrill voice and raised eyebrows mostly evokes suppressed laughter from the little boy. Even my most serious conversations and advice are met with laughter and mockery by both the guys in the house. I am happy to be raising a boy who is unaffected by high decibel levels of a highly impatient mama and remains cool as a cucumber. Surely he will work with any hot tempered boss.  The hubby also does not remember what I said five minutes ago. If these guys can manage my crazy moods and high decibel levels and still insist to have me around all the time, then this is exactly what differentiates family from others.

Whenever I make a serious conversation at home, both the guys look at each other, then at me and start murmuring. The hubby guy has a habit of making jokes at hospitals and churches. I am the only person who laughs inappropriately at such places when the man who cracked the joke acts as if he is not related to me, making me look like a complete loser who has no sense of surroundings. Then there are others who take my jokes seriously. Like for example a college mate who needed explicit clinical bifurcation between jokes, facts, information and general loose talk. There is an element in our DNA which identifies them automatically, which was missing in her.

Image Courtesy: Here
 I have always looked up to people like my Dad who never responds to negative criticism or even insults directed towards him. We feel like losers when there are disagreements because he does not put up a fight and let us win. He forgives, forgets and most of all does not let anything affect him. These are all biblical qualities which we should NOT try to imitate at any cost (as we may become better people, this evil society does not deserve such people).

If I am not taken seriously by the boys back home, I think that is the best. They don’t remember why I yelled at them last evening.

Because the socks are still stuck inside the shoes and both don’t seem to care. Surely they don’t remember it today, and they will not carry it forward for years to come and judge me for it.
Family is the best place to yell: D

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Xmas Hustle.

I can’t seem to remember the month of December 2017, so I am guessing that I may have been in a coma which no one is speaking to me about. I do remember the Xmas cakes and garlic breads straight out of my Moms oven melting in my mouth gulped with generous amounts of wine. Christmas, as usual, was spent with my people in peace, love, music and lots of food. I earned this break after slogging and stressing out in office trying to reach somebody’s insanely impossible goals and timelines.

I applied for a month vacation, and my boss was highly amused at my great expectations. She cut it down to ten working days. My husband was allowed more leave and he said ‘Bye, Roomie, Merry Xmas’ and went on his way. Well, my son and me had the best time ,did our Xmas shopping, ate countless tubs of popcorn, watched late night Disney, slept and woke up on our terms. It was such a jolly good time without rules and husband ! Finally the day of travel arrived. I was supposed to leave office a bit early as it was busy Xmas season, traffic was slow moving towards the airport and the flight dint belong to my Dad. I targeted to leave by 4:00 pm.

Meanwhile some logically-challenged guys at office requested project related training at 3:00 pm. I had to pack bags, weigh them, get food for my son, dress him, lock all doors, switch off TV and Gas, arrange documents, remind the driver for airport drop, pay the cleaner, park my car somewhere safe, handover keys to neighbor to water my microscopic and malnourished plants in my absence, lock bedroom doors amongst many other things.

Image Courtesy: Here
As I had emptied my fridge and every meal had to be arranged, I came towards my car in the afternoon with a thousand things running in my head and official calls ringing continuously. I found a car parked perpendicular to mine, completely blocking any forward movement. Who on earth parks like this as if I abandoned my car there? All hell broke loose in my head. My animal instincts woke up. I rang up a colleague who usually parks adjacent to mine and blurted ‘Hey do you know which stupid is the owner of this purple Mazda? What kind of ..what ..what nonsensical…’ …I searched for words to complete my sentences. He said ‘Anita first of all calm down, you can find him at___’ I cut the call and made an angry walk towards the human who was doomed to be at the receiving end of my wrath.

He was happily joking in his cubicle oblivious of the fire he started. I said ‘Can you move your car from there?’ What I really wanted to say  was ‘Hey pea-brained useless creature! You better move your damn car out of that place else I will scratch it with my keychain!’. To be honest I am the useless creature whose mouth goes against her brain. The guy who heard me loud and clear said… ‘I wrote my number there…dint you see?’ Oh well ! Now he expects me to walk around his car and find his number and call him whenever I have to go somewhere? Dude, I don’t even call my husband whenever I start my car. I replied to him. ‘NO!’. He looked at me closely, measuring the rising mercury levels and quietly moved his ridiculously flashy car. The fire that started in my head couldn’t be extinguished.

Later the training started at 3:00 pm and the trainees had segregated all the doubts in the world to ask me. I kept talking and simultaneously looking at my watch every five seconds trying to signal the crowd that I am not interested. However they seemed to be brimming with a thirst for knowledge. Finally I scraped through that meeting around 4:10pm. Later everything happened in a blur, packing, tidying, locking etc. , and soon we were on our way to the airport.

Wearing similar tee shirts and jackets, my son and I cuddled in the backseat of the car, when he looked up at me and asked. ‘Ma did you take the passports and ticket?’

‘Yes I did, baby’. I said confidently, after having successfully sailed through a busy day alone.

‘Are you sure ma?’


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