What’s new

When you start getting anonymous new followers on your blog, even though you haven’t posted anything for almost close to a year, you have to realise that your blog is being spammed and it’s time to update it.

So hello everyone!

I am still alive and very much in Edinburgh. (Can’t love the city enough!)

Here’s the latest happenings:

My son will turn 9 next month! How did that happen? where did my sweet little baby go and who is this eye rolling (yeah!) monster brat who can get a lot annoying if I let the reins loose.

I got a driving licence last year. yay! In hindsight, it feels silly really. What’s the big deal in getting a driving licence but at the time of learning, it felt major work. Accomplishing something, anything really, after a break of almost 7 years does feel like a major achievement.

I got a job! Woohooo! That’s another accomplishment. Another tick mark to the list of goals. It has been a month since I started working, so now I can say it feels real and it is real. But sometimes I have to pinch myself if this is really true.

Seeing Roger Federer live in action: What a dream come true. We went to see him play at the O2 arena. He lost the match against David Goffin; but to see him, be in the same space as him, what pure joy!

These highs later in the last year were not before I was hit with the lowest of lows. My dear grandmother, my aaji, died last August. It feels surreal, it feels fake. It cannot be true. Writing it down doesn’t make it real or acceptable. People say writing about loss and grief and suffering would somehow lessen it, lessen the blow. I find it impossible to write about it. It feels superficial. You cannot express what you feel and how deep the pain is. I didn’t feel much at the time. I was like a robot, going about doing things that needed done. I was on autopilot going through the motions of life. Life has become so busy. There is no time to grieve, no time to stop and think and feel. And then suddenly it comes crashing down, the gut wrenching pain while you are doing something mundane. A word, a song, a situation, a long forgotten memory, and you have ripped open a wound.

Aansoo ab tum kabhi na behna
Apna dard kisise na kehna

Where I disappeared

It was one of those days….

When you finish sweeping the floors, you find more dirt hiding securely behind the door. Sigh..

Doing the laundry is a mammoth task, the more clothes you iron, the more they ooze out from the laundry box. It’s like those never-ending pieces of cloth that come out of the magician’s sleeve.

No matter how much you try to tidy up the house, it never appears clean; there are still more toys to pick up, another window pane to wipe down, another table to swipe!

Then there is grocery shopping where you have to drag your kid along with you. When you come out of the mart, it looks like you could feed off it for a month. Sadly it only last a week. Almost.

And all this work when done on a weekend seems like the rage of Gods or, wait, the signs of a well rested wife! Or a wife who, though physically present in the house looks blankly at you and is surprised at seeing all the mess that is around her. That’s me! I would rather describe myself as someone who can transport her mind to a faraway land (through her laptop) and is highly active and functional there (wherever that is) – the enchanted and mystical world that rests within the world wide web where my intellectual (!) insanity wanders everyday.

It started officially in January but I was hooked onto it since November last year. I think I already wrote a post on it but here it goes again. I signed up for a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which started in January and ended in March. Since then I joined six other moocs, left three of them and currently seriously doing three: The Modern and the Post ModernEnglish Composition I: Achieving Expertise and A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behaviour. And I have signed up for many more, one of them includes  Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas! Who would have thought I had such yearning for learning!

Thank god, her husband can cook! And clean. And do the laundry and did I mention grocery shopping?

So, how have you all been? 🙂

First impressions

Let me begin with saying that I am amazed at the kiddo’s nature to adapt. He was an angel during the flight. I think he actually enjoys the travel – the experience. He is always super excited when we travel by train or even by bus. Although, I think he was a little overwhelmed with all the emotional welcome and affection thrown his way by his grandparents and other relatives. He recovered soon and on our entire trip from airport to home, he was a chatterbox – counting the buses, autos, trucks and tempos.

I, in turn had a little adventure. I made my husband pick up someone else’s bag – (not on purpose!) when we got them off the conveyor belt. Thankfully our own bag had our number on it and the bag’s owner called us before we left the airport. Luckily for me, the saint had to deal with the security officers 🙂 After this minor mishap, I truly felt that I have landed in Mumbai! 

Kiddo’s cousin, my SIL’s son, is eager to play with him and surprise surprise! the kiddo plays with him too. In our last visit kiddo had turned into a human magnet and stuck to me all the time whereas now, both are behaving as if they are kumbh ke mele mein bichade hue bhai. I am hoping things will be so for the rest of our trip. I doubt whether he will be the same when the rest of the family joins in for Ganpati. I am trying to prepare him, as much as possible, for the number of relatives who would soon join us for Ganpati festival.

Two things have amused him a lot:

  • The ceiling fan – he can look at it for hours and he wants to switch them on every time he walks into a room
  • His cousin’s antics – enough said! 

It is a truth nationally acknowledged that a grandchild who lives abroad must be in want of continuous overwhelming attention from his/her grandparents on his visit to India. He must be showered with constant affection, love and gifts on a daily basis. I have come to believe that the line between affection and obsession is very thin indeed.

In such cases as this, the grandchild soon falls under the impression that he is a superior being who should be worshipped and be the centre of attention. Given the current situation the kiddo will soon be the above example.

As for me, I am hit with nostalgia and I go awwww at even small things…a familiar lane, atmosphere, even the vegetable and fish vendors lining up a street. Having said that, I also end up cursing the heat, pollution, dust and such sundry stuff that is part and parcel of Mumbai. At one time I am craving to travel local trains and at the very next, end up frustrated at the crowds that I would encounter.

Family and friends are eager and excited to meet us and hopefully we will find time to meet everyone. All this attention makes me feel as if I am a celebrity or at least someone very important… hee hee.. soon I would be waving and blowing kisses at random people I see on the road. 🙂

On turning 30

So 30..yeah.

I have never thought 30 is a big deal and I won’t let marketing and media get to me. I never had a 30 by 30 list (but then I found myself nodding my head vigorously at this list) and I am not going to the store to buy my first anti wrinkle cream.

The last five years have been pretty exciting. This is my 5th birthday after marriage and out of these 5 I have spent 4 outside India (1 in Singapore and 3 here in Edinburgh).

So 30…yeah!

I know I am supposed to feel older and mature and wise (!) But in my head I still feel about 15. Who doesn’t?

Kiddo has made the largest impact on my maturity levels, if any. After you have a child your priorities are forced to change. Quite ironically, he has brought out the child like qualities inside me yet has managed to turn me into a responsible adult. Life has literally changed after him. The fact that I can cook a decent meal says a lot about my change and those who know me well will agree. I have also in fact, developed quite a liking for eating food and trying out new dishes. The credit for this goes to the Saint and it is going to be his fault if I turn fat. Now can you see how I tend to digress to the topic of food?? 🙂

Anyway, so yeah…30!

The Saint and kiddo have baked me a cake! No help from me. They even searched for this recipe on the net and didn’t use any of mine.


No big surprises and no extraordinary celebration to mark this supposedly important landmark. I believe that is good. 🙂

Me, books and makeup

It was almost four years ago that my husband skilfully managed to make me watch another of Meryl Streep‘s movie to convince me of her great acting talents and this time he tricked me into it saying that there’s a character in it that’s just like me.

I was hooked.

The film was Devil Wears Prada and the character he was referring to was Andrea Sachs played by Anne Hathaway! I was very excited to watch this cute and hard-working girl until I found out that she was the target of much ridicule for her dressing sense and style. So that’s how my husband saw me – a girl with no sense of style.

I found a sad little corner of the house and secretly licked my wounds. Instead of frantically getting a makeover and taking a crash course in make-up, I adamantly stuck to my style – whatever that was.

Then we travelled to Edinburgh with a one year old in tow. Dressing and makeup were replaced with diapers and baby food. Having my hair in one place and no drool on my face was the best makeup. Living in perhaps the most beautiful city in UK and being surrounded by beautiful women did no good to my ego. Even the old ladies wore pearl necklaces for a walk in the gardens!!

Wait, I have a point and I will come to it. Perhaps!

Summer’s here or it is supposed to be here and am eagerly waiting for the Edinburgh International Book festival to start next month. I am attending a couple of events and I don’t want to be Andrea Sachs with the blue sweater.

Beauty tips anyone?

An experience in compassion

Yesterday husband, kiddo and I went out with my parents. It’s their last couple of days here and we just wanted to go around the city. We first went to the farmer’s market near the castle. After visiting the stalls and buying a few things here and there, we settled down to chit-chat with a cup of coffee.

A few minutes later, a young girl came up with her accordion box and started playing. On the inside of her box it was written, “Playing back student loan”. She played for some time smiling and nodding at the tourists and people passing by. No one played much attention to her though some people smiled back.

Girl playing accordion to pay back student loan

Then came a woman with her little daughter. She stopped in front of this girl. For a couple of minutes she explained something to her daughter in soft words often pointing at the girl with the accordion. She then took out a few quid and asked her daughter to put them into the box.

I was so much arrested with this scene. That moment epitomised for me the very essence of compassion and empathy. I am sure after that conversation the little girl will be able to experience and feel for others who are having a hard time. She will be able to imagine what it would be like to be in that person’s shoes.

I know my son is too small to have understood what all this was about and I am sure there are others ways in which I could teach him compassion. This incident was another lesson in compassion and I was thrilled to experience it especially after just having read Zephyr’s post about it.

Places I want to visit before I leave Edinburgh

There’s only one month left before I leave Edinburgh and I couldn’t be more sad. I haven’t lived in many different cities but this has been the experience so far. It is also the longest I have ever stayed put post marriage.

I honestly don’t think I would find any other city as exciting and lovely as Edinburgh.

Living here alone with my husband and kid has helped me grow personally. In India, we lived with my in-laws and living in a joint family has a sense of security. You know people are always there for you and you can fall back on them for any troubles and fears. Abroad, you are totally alone and independent. When we came here 2 years back, I always had the fear that I am alone with my kid for the entire day in a totally new place. Now I take him to his playgroup, play centres and am even contemplating taking him to dinner when husband is out on his office trip.

This place has also seen many of my first cooking experiences, from baking cakes to biryani, from pasta to dosa, from various chutney to schezuan sauce. Managing finances, planning holidays, map reading, trying new restaurants and new dishes, I have learnt it all. I wonder if I would got these important experiences back in India, probably not.

Apart from these personal experiences, this place holds many emotional moments and important milestones of my son. His first steps near the living room window, his first walk in the garden, first words, first playgroup, first experience with snow and snowfall, first books, first library certificates. It’s going to be so difficult to leave this place leaving behind all these important memories.

Edinburgh is known as the ‘Athens of the North’. Living in the second top travel destination in UK has its advantages – you are living in one of the most beautiful capitals of Europe and you are surrounded by stunning locations and landmarks.

Some of the experiences that I want to relive:

Walk down the Princess street:
The heart of Edinburgh – the central street and the main shopping street. The mile long street with the Edinburgh Castle and Princess Street garden on one side and shops on the other. In August during festival time, it’s packed with tourists from all around the world. It is the best place to be during Christmas with its German markets, fairs and fireworks.

Even though I have been on the Princess Street numerous time, I want to go again to breathe in the air and capture the essence of Edinburgh. And when am on Princess street, I might just take a turn and walk up to Royal Mile.

Calton Hill:
It’s in the city centre, a short climb at the end of Princess street. I have been to the top of Calton Hill once and it is usually a quiet place. It offers fantastic panoramic views of the city including the Princess street and Edinburgh Castle. You can also see the slopes of Holyrood park, Arthur’s Seat and cliffs of Salisbury Crags. The unfinished monument – the Athenian acropolis makes for great climbing.

Edinburgh Castle:
Set across from the Princess Street, Edinburgh Castle is at the heart of the Scottish capital. How many other capitals can pride themselves with that?

The castle itself has many attractions but what holds my interests are the spectacular panoramic views it offers of Edinburgh.

Forth Rail Bridge:
The boat trip from Forth Bridge is itself exciting and the massive railway bridge is a sight to behold. I have been on the boat trip before and seen the bridge from it. Now I want to travel by train over it.

Portobello Beach:
It’s perhaps the nearest beach from Edinburgh, just 3 miles form the city centre. It is very clean and has a beautiful long promenade. The kiddo enjoys a lot playing in the sand and running on the promenade.










Here are a few things that I haven’t done so far but wish to do at least once before I leave:

Visit the National Museum of Scotland:
It’s one of the must visit attractions on tourism sites. Also, I can’t remember the last time I visited a museum.

Walk up to Arthur’s seat:
I have been to Holyrood Park many times but haven’t climbed up to Arthur’s seat. Again it is one of the must do thing and also I want to see the views it offers from the top.

Go up the Scott Monument:
Numerous times I have been to the Princess street gardens but haven’t seen the Scott Monument from inside. The kiddo was small and we couldn’t carry the pram up the 300 odd steps of the monument and then we always ignored it in search of better spots and locations. Will go now.

Take a Ghost Tour:
Again, we couldn’t take the kiddo to a ghost tour. Now that I have my parents visiting us, I intend to take one probably the scariest one is possible.

Take a walk/cycle route:
Edinburgh is famous for its long walks around canals, hills, castles and bridges. I want to go on a long walk or a cycle ride and experience the laid back way of life.

Mummy kehti hai bada naam karega…

My son just finished his second colouring book. He has shown patience to complete a whole a page before jumping on to the next, ability to keep the colours within the lines and has torn only 2 of the 15 pages – a vast improvement from the previous one which is lying in shreds somewhere in the dark recesses of and beneath the sofa.

When you are young life is so beautiful around you. Everyone appreciates you, motivates you and makes you think that you can achieve almost anything if you put your mind to it. You feel anything and everything is possible for you. You just need to walk out of the door of your house and there’s a whole world of possibilities out there for you to grab.

Such are the thoughts that I get when I look at my son.

Possibilities. Adventures. Opportunities. Bright future.

Life is very beautiful for him right now he can turn it any which way he prefers.

In this last year he has learned so many new things and diverse activities that given the opportunity and infinite resources at his disposal, any activity of his can be considered as a serious career opportunity. This is another manifestation of our unachievable ambitions and dreams. Here are a few that are at the top of our minds:

Artist/Painter: The colouring book number 2. Just yesterday he coloured for an hour. Continuously. He was even humming to himself during that time. I agree he gets confused between light blue and dark blue and most often the clouds are red instead of grey but then he can always paint a modern art. Here are his masterpieces:

While we are talking about modern art, check out few of his samples. I mean do you really think he should give up on such talent?

Greeting card for Mother's Day
Painting at playgroup
Clouds and sky - another painting at playgroup

He loves to draw on his erasable slate. From son, moon – sorry moon crescent to smileys, fridge, mobile, Tom and Jerry. He can even draw himself and my ma ki nazar can make out an uncanny resemblance. Once he even drew a fat dad and a thin mum who oddly resembled a long thin broomstick. My son is very talented I tell you.

The Smiley
Self Portrait

Travel and living: Not travelling in Mumbai and living in suburbs. That’s horrible. This is more like what they show on the Discovery channel. This one is also a secret ambition of my husband, an alternate career if you like. Since coming to Scotland, we have been on many trips – Amsterdam, London, highlands for short trips and many day outings and the son has enjoyed it. As long as he is outside the house he is happy. On weekends, when the kiddo wakes up and realises that Daddy is at home, he asks, ‘Where are we going today?’ He has his daddy’s genes. The husband can never stay at home for an entire day. He has to go out even if it is for grocery shopping or just to take a walk. The son is the same. The husband is enchanted with the Discovery channel and can watch it for hours specially the programmes in which  the host travels to exotic locations. You get the idea.

Modelling: This ambition is nurtured by the kiddo’s grandpa, my Father-in-law. Bachpan se, the kiddo’s looks have been compared to that of Ranbir Kapoor. I don’t know what the connection is. He doesn’t look like Ranbir and I for one had a crush on Rishi. Anyway, I have been told that my FIL had this ambition for one of his nephews as well who he thought looked like some good-looking actor at the time. The FIL’s further secret ambition is to be his Manager. No comments. Here’s our model for you:

The model in a stylish camera friendly pose

Chef: Cause, let’s face it cook is just mediocre. This again I believe has been the secret ambition of my hubby’s and since the kiddo shows some excitement about what’s cooking, we now have daydreams about his becoming a Chef. Not SRK in Duplicate, more like Jamie Oliver. Oh how my daughter-in-law would bless me!

Singer: ‘The wheels on the bus’ has close to 50 odd versions if not more. Did any of you know that? It’s been more than a year now and this is still the kiddo’s favourite song. It is played on Youtube throughout the day and when it’s not playing on Youtube, the kiddo is singing it. At the top of his voice. The best part? I have to do the actions for round and round, beep beep beep etc etc every time he sings it! He definitely has the sur and taal.

Dancer: He also has the laya. Apart from jumping around in circles and some other dance steps, he has perfected Dev Anand‘s walk! Dev Anand style walking he says. Now Dev Anand has been my first crush ever since I saw Paying Guest. Husband doesn’t like him, never did and makes fun of me every time I sit down and drool over his songs. The son doesn’t know who Dev Anand is – but he vaguely considers Ganesha to be Dev Anand – it’s the Dev in it, I think. The husband doesn’t want Dev Anand to be his dancing inspiration and idol and I am just happy that he picks up the beat for ‘beep beep beep from Wheels on the bus’ and can clap 3 times on it. Perhaps I should show the kiddo the song ‘Khoya khoya chaand‘. I haven’t yet told my husband that I sometimes secretly dream of enrolling the son for Kathak classes. 🙂

Acting: He sure can act and on cue. He knows when to throw tantrums, when to make that baby face that makes us go awwww.. and has perfected the tear faced look – when his eyes are filled with tears but not a single drop drops and his face looks dejected and saddened. What else do you need – dancing and singing along with acting! He is a boy wonder.

Writer/Composer: This child prodigy of mine has composed a song of three lines. I mean that’s something. And no, he poem is not like Rosesh’s. He has even composed a tune for it. I have already started nudging him to write a story because let’s accept it, most people like to read novels instead of poetry. At bed time though he does compose some short stories to tell us so I have hope.

Footballer: This is another one in his long list of passions. He loves to play football. In the house. He cannot bend it like Beckham as yet but he makes it up in speed and accuracy. He knows just how to kick the ball in the air and aim it at the ceiling lights without breaking a single bulb. That’s timing and accuracy. He can even aim it at the TV without breaking the glass. Seriously football it is for him!

Cricketer: He already has the timing, you know placing the ball and all. He doesn’t play cricket with the huge football. He likes the small tennis ball. My only disappointment is that he is a left handed batsmen, I would have liked him to be a right-handed batsman but then I guess that’s too much of expectation!

Seriously, why would you want to be an engineer, doctor, teacher or an IT professional when you have such brilliant talents and glamorous career options. Besides, those are just jobs and these are careers, mind you. That’s why I have excluded them.

So, you have any unfulfilled wishes that you want to intimidate your child with? 🙂


Wistful (Photo credit: Rich Renomeron)

One of my best friends and colleagues at my old firm got a promotion. I just received her mail. Happy as I am for her, I can’t help but feel a tinge sad for myself. I could have been in her position. Hell, we both would have been celebrating our promotions right now.

It’s not jealousy. I am truly happy for her. She is one of the best persons I know and I am very happy to have her in my life. I am also very content to be at home and watch my son grow. The individual inner self though who is not a wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, is wistful. At the moment.

Of parents and parenting

It started with the son going to playgroup – my regular interaction with toddlers and their parents who came to the same playgroup. In my 2 year stay here, I have come across people who have only appreciated the kiddo and have always had a kind word to say about him, ‘oh, how lovely, oh how sweet’ ‘oh he’s such a big boy’ ‘oh how well does he sing’ and so on. I was always stunned and somewhat humbled by their genuineness. It never seemed that they were deliberately appreciating my boy. Why would they? What’s in it for them? And they were all foreigners, I mean UK citizens. In the playgroup however, I came across some Indian kids and their mums. It was almost 2 weeks before my son happily settled in the playgroup and until that then I had to be with him during the entire time.

During those days, I always got support and encouragement from these other mothers telling me not to worry about it and that their kids were the same and it is very common for them to cry when they stay away from their mothers for the first time. There was never any criticism or cross word. Then, when my son had settled in, many new kids came along and I found myself telling these new ladies that it would be alright and not to worry. It was then that I came across this Indian lady whose husband incidentally worked at the same office as my husband’s. Her son took about a week to settle in and she used to stay there the entire time as I used to.

Initially we talked a lot about the general stuff, how long have you been here, life in Edinburgh, weather and our kid’s. Then one day when I went to collect my son, she makes this statement in a condescending manner, ‘Your son doesn’t have any snacks during their break.’ My first reaction was, ‘What does it have to do with you?’ but instead I replied, ‘It’s all right, he has a heavy breakfast.’ A couple of days later, she tells me, ‘Your son is still playing with the bike (even though it is time to tidy up and sit down for story time)’. Again I replied, ‘It’s all right!’ Then one day I was late for dropping off my son at the playgroup and this lady meets me halfway and smiles snidely and says, ‘You are late today!’ I mean WTF?

I mean who the hell is she to patronize me in this manner? Why can’t she mind her own business? She is not the playgroup leader or an administrator to criticise or discuss my son’s habits or behaviour. I was so angry that I was about to blast her then and there to mind her own business. Instead, I had a long talk with my husband to blow off the steam. The calm being superior to me in terms of patience and wisdom told me calmly that most probably I won’t be seeing this lady in a couple of months’ time when the son starts going to nursery school and I would probably never see her again. What does it matter what a stranger says? I agreed and calmed down but it was still lingering in the back of my mind and every time I saw her. I wondered whether I should make some nasty comments about her son just to give her a taste of her own medicine but her son is sweet and am not the kind of person who does such low things.

It got me thinking however, why do parents criticize other children or other parents to prove their own superiority? Do they think so lowly of their own children? Were they themselves treated in such manner when they were kids? Is this the only way in which they can prove their child’s calibre? Why do they always have to compare their own kids with others? Do they realise how this affects their child’s self-esteem?  What is their benchmark for such comparison? I have often seen extremes of these comparisons, some parents feel their munchkins are so adorable that they find all other kids beneath their own kids and wouldn’t mind stating so in public. The other extreme is to complain about your own kids to anyone and everyone who would listen. But I digress.

There is a concept in psychology – performance goals and mastery. Performance goals seek to demonstrate ability to others. Mastery goals on the other hand, seek to improve and learn. Mastery learning (ML) means students should master each learning unit before proceeding to a more advanced learning task. In ML, teachers evaluate students with criterion-reference tests rather than norm-reference tests.

Rather than getting into the technicalities of it, this site provides a fantastic example of mastery and performance goals.

‘Paris Hilton and Meryl Streep – they’re both famous actors, but they seem to have extremely different approaches to acting.  While Paris Hilton’s goals seem to be concerned with obtaining attention and fame, Meryl Streep’s goals seem to be about mastering her craft.’

Hilton Students vs. Streep Students

Many students approach education like Paris Hilton approaches acting: caring more about how others react to their actions and demonstrating their abilities to others than they care about learning. More people need to approach education like Meryl Streep approaches acting: caring more about learning and mastering than whether they look awkward or how they compare to those around them.

What made me go into all this learning psychology?  I know it is a farfetched comparison but I think this learning attitude is very similar to our attitude in life. We are content when we think we are doing comparatively better than our peers/neighbours/friends. People are more focused on winning, looking good and doing better than others. There is nothing wrong in wanting to do better and achieve in the world. But when this is achieved by disapproving and censuring others it is not victory in the just sense. Instead of finding faults in others it is important to focus on your own goals and achievements.