A day well spent


Musings from the past week


I can now officially crib since next year I will be on the wrong side of 30! Dear god! I can still remember details about my school and college life but after that it is all in fast forward mode. I already feel like an old maid. ūüė¶

Before I begin my sulking, never imagined I would be celebrating 2 consecutive birthdays outside India – in a beautiful city like Edinburgh. When in school, I always hated it that my birthday fell during the monsoon season and it most definitely rained on that day. Here however, I am really enjoying this summer and sunshine.

This year I have also been able to get a lot of reading done. Thanks to the libraries here which have a huge collection. Back in India I was never able to continue with any library due to the frenzied lifestyle and lack of me-time. The books that I had purchased are still lying in a bag in some cupboard. Here I am enjoying the old world charm of going to a library, browsing through the books and reading them at leisure. Life is so spaced out here. I can take my kiddo with me. He plays with the toys in the kids corner section while I browse and issue books. It has such a laid back feeling to it which I enjoy. I have really come to savor these moments as I know I cannot do this back home.

August month here has a lot to offer with the school vacations and summer and it is truly the Festival month of Edinburgh. It’s filled with a diverse range of¬†activities, shows, performances, arts, etc for all kinds of audiences. The Edinburgh International Book Festival starts this weekend and I am determined to take the kiddo for book reading sessions and other activities. The website is not operating but I shall note down the details about our visits.

The kiddo meanwhile is at his naughtiest best – more demanding, more stubborn and troublesome with a mischievous smile to cover it all. The foods that he dislikes are promptly pushed on the floor from the dining table – (the carpet in our case¬†ūüė¶ ). Most of the time, after a meal or snack, hubby or I are on the floor cleaning up after his royal highness is done with the food. The juice is spilled over a wider area in the kitchen after which he will solemnly ask for the cleaning sponge cloths – he is amazed at the speed with which these cloths absorb the liquid and hence wants to watch it over and over again.

He has also learnt the art of communicating with his toys – the doggy¬†is placed facing the window and is compulsorily made to watch the fountain in the garden and whether the water is on. The open-mouthed dinosaurs¬†are now given lunches and dinners and are fed with rice daily – they are not turning chubby. The kiddo’s¬†blanket is placed on the Teddy¬†Bear – he is told to go to sleep so that Daddy will take them both to the garden in the evening. Every meal is to be had while watching ‘Wheels on the bus go round and round’ – I can sing this now even when am unconscious. If the song is over before the food, then the various other versions are to be played repeatedly. I haven’t given up though. As soon as he is old enough to listen and understand film songs, I am going to bombard him with Lata¬†Mangeshkar¬†oldies and Mehdi¬†Hassan ghazals. Let’s see if I can turn him over to my generation about songs.

Books are still a favourite though. Every time, he sees me reading, he will pick up one of his books and sit next to me, pretending to read. TV watching is mostly restricted to his lunch time and he has started picking up english words. There’s this one show where the host reads out greeting cards and letters to kids whose parents and relatives have wished them on their birthday. The kiddo promptly starts singing Happy Birthday to you!

Speaking of TV, I have been seeing this ad starring a weather-beaten Jean-Claude Van Damme:

What in the hell is this all about?

He is walking like a penguin and his pants are frozen rock solid??

This is such a perplexing ad, no idea what lager he’s¬†advertising and would it be any good if it freezes his assets?

The Birthday Week


One day is not enough to celebrate your birthday, seriously.

There is too much excitement, you receive assorted gifts in the coming days from friends and relatives and mostly there is too much food to be hogged and you just cannot do it in one day!

When we are small, we have birthday parties, one single get together with friends and family to celebrate your birthday, grab the gifts, eat cakes and other delicious food. And then you are done. The excitement is over. Just like that. But as you grow older, the birthday parties are rare and not organised every year, the number of gifts dwindle and in general it’s not a big deal.¬†

To recreate the fun,¬†we (mostly me and my uncle-aunt) decided that birthdays should be celebrated for the entire week – a few days before and a few days after the big day. It should be a more elaborate event. Like Diwali – each day¬†you have something to celebrate, more fun, more sweets, more food – in all a¬†darn good time¬†over a few days. We started¬†having impromptu dinner parties at home and restaurants, ordered takeaways, indulged in roadside¬†chats, paani puri, ice creams¬†– the¬†reason always being, someone’s birthday was¬†due in a¬†couple of days. That way you could enjoy for more than one day and eat all your favourite foods and specially feel special and important.

Why am I suddenly being nostalgic and ranting about this. My birthday falls in this first week of August. Fortunately this week also marks the beginning of Shraavan. Although we are not following Shraavan, no non-veg food can be consumed during this entire week as festivals are marked throughout. Be still my heavy heart, we can still have fun with the veg food. Afterall, ghaas-phus can be made interesting.

 

So am officially announcing the commencement of celebrations for my birthday, besides, the world is a better place because of me. I have already started my celebration with mutton chops, Pomfret curry and strawberry wine. Go ahead, stop fretting, stop worrying, indulge yourselves, eat out, have fun, go on a holiday you have been longing to, meet your loved ones, have that tempting plate of food (to hell with the calories) and have a great week. In case anyone asks or you have guilty pangs, blame it on my birthday.

Things I wish/want for my birthday:

  • Mental peace, an anchor, something to hold onto – to rest my mind from the tangle of thoughts that obstruct my clarity of vision and judgement.
  • Get a hold on as many books as I can since I have the feeling that this is the only leisurely time I will ever get to read and relax.
  • A job: Something that will make me productive again – something to which I¬†can apply my mind to and feel satisfied with the results. I miss¬†those deadlines, pressure and anxiety, yes I miss feeling miserable.
  • Self actualisation: My grandma will agree with me that age has not brought me what it is supposed to bring in people¬† – wisdom, astuteness and some personality. I can’t at times find any changes in myself from when I was¬†a teenager.¬†Anger has always been my downfall and letting it get the better of me has often led me into trouble. People will not bother with who is right and who is wrong – they will only pinpoint at the person who is angry and shouting – and mostly that is me. Still need to change that.
  • Physical exercise: Have never done it, nor likely to do in near future unless advised by the doctor. But I always feel good after a coming back from a walk or running after the brat.¬† Need to do that more often. Need some fresh air and here it is plenty.
  • Music: There was once a time when I lived and thrived on music. I used to carry my Walkman¬†to college and¬†listen to songs during my commute. I used to go to sleep at night listening to songs. Nowadays I hardly¬†ever turn on the music. Nursery rhymes, Thomas, Chuggington, Tom and Jerry are the order of the day. I want to make an attempt to listen to more of my favourite songs. Find that iPod!
  • Take a break: from my routine – from cooking, cleaning, other household chores, being a mother and care taker. I need a break. I mean a real break from all that I am doing 24/7. I need a carefree life for sometime for at least a few days. I know it will come soon but till then need to hang in there.
  • Chocolate: It helps, really it does. One bar of dairy milk can work wonders and I have been indulging since quite some time now. I want to dig up more recipes for all sorts of chocolate milkshakes, cakes, etc for this summer. A girl needs her chocolate, that’s¬†the bottom line.

That should do for now. ūüôā

The Cinema Experience


The Yogi Bear Show
Image via Wikipedia

We took Shantanu, who by the way is turning more into a brat by the day, to watch a movie last weekend. The multiplexes here air kiddie movies every Saturday morning. We decided it was time to introduce the little punk to the theatre. Movie listings were checked, the brat was shown a¬†couple of¬†movie trailers just to check his liking. ¬†We finally decides on Yogi Bear¬†after Cars and Kung Fu Panda. He seemed excited enough although it was me and hubby who were more eager to go and watch a movie, any movie in a theatre after more than a year. The excitement of going for a movie doesn’t end na? I have always felt eager and excited to watch a movie in theatre – the tickets, popcorn, pepsi-coke¬† – it is so reviving.

All set, the next day saw us at the theatre half an hour before the movie time. He watched the ads before the movie with deep concentration and I was starting to feel relaxed that he might sit still during the movie ahead.

But…

He was all attention when the Bear was on the screen and started crying as soon as it was out of scene. After a lot of cajoling and coaxing, hubby took him out and got a big cone of popcorn ūüôā

Alas the movie was one smooth ride after that. We even waited till the closing credits rolled out!! Pizzas and chocolate drinks followed and he was one happy kid by afternoon.

Shantanu and I also had our very first Bowling experience. With all our travelling, he is turning out to be a very outgoing person.

No wonder hubby wants to send him in to Travel and Living! ūüôā

 

These are a few of my favourite songs…


The kiddo has taken a liking to music I must say. With me bombarding him with a variety of songs, he doesn’t have an alternative but listen to them. The songs are a must while eating his meals. Though he likes almost all the children toon songs, he has his favourites…


Bada¬†natkhat¬†hai¬†re – I don’t know why he really likes this song. It’s a slow one. I guess it’s because I once made a montage of his photos and put this song as the bachground score.


Ichak dana – I guess it’s the words and rhythm for this one that he loves. And I equally love it watching with him.


I love to laugh – well, one day kiddo¬†was really bored with all the songs and it suddenly struck me that I haven’t once made him listen to the Mary Poppins songs. It was one of my favourites when I was a kid. Once I showed him, he was hooked. Who wouldn’t be? ūüôā This one is an all time favourite of his. He starts laughing the moment he sees this one.


Jolly Holiday – Another one! He loves the umbrella and the stick dance in this and also the tortoises.


Penguin dance – What can I say, the penguins are adorable.


Step in time – He loves the dance. Again I think it’s the rhythm that makes him jump up and down.


mach gaya¬†shor – am baffled but he loves this one and starts dancing. ūüėõ

So, what are your kid’s favourite songs?

Aberfoyle and The Lake of Menteith


So we decided to go to Loch Lomond last weekend. However, due to our lack of knowledge of the roads, inexperience of driving in a foreign country and incorrect inputs into the GPS system, we reached Aberfoyle. If only had we relied on Googlebaba before venturing on our virgin drive in Scotland.   

¬†Above was the route that we finally took. But it wasn’t all that easy. Let me begin at the beginning. We rented a seven seater car with a child seat from Enterprise Cars¬†a day before. We needed to pick our car from the Airport. The beauty of this facility is that you avoid driving through the city and can take an out and out route directly from the airport to the destined location.¬†¬†¬†

We reached the airport by 10:30 am. Among the 6 of us, we had 4 four bags for a day’s journey. Packed with snacks, cold drinks, Shantanu’s¬†4 meals, plates and cups and Shantanu’s pram.¬†¬†¬†¬†

We got our car at around 11 am. From there started our predicament. We had to get the child seat changed since it was small for Shantanu. Then we asked for help and around 45 minutes later we finally fixed it onto the seat. Meanwhile hubby’s colleague tried to feed the route and destination into the GPS system.¬†¬†¬†

At 11:45 am we collectively let out a sigh of relief on fixing the car seat and working out the GPS system. We were all set to go only to realise, to our dismay, that hubby couldn’t put the car into reverse to take it out of the parking lot. After trying for 5 minutes, we asked the security. He told us that we had to lift the gear and then shift it into position to put it in reverse. Now then, did I imagine him giving us a funny look saying, “desi log, can’t fix the child seat, can’t put the reverse gear and are thinking of driving all the way to Loch Lomond, ha ha ha!”¬†¬†¬†¬†

Eventually, we did start our journey at 12:05 pm chanting “Ganpati¬†bappa¬†morya”. I even imagined Ganpati¬†bappa¬†smirking. As you can imagine, all of us were talking non-stop, laughing at ourselves and discussing our stupidity that we couldn’t hear the GPS instructions. We missed out on our exists, took wrong turns, drove into a wrong lane once, got honked on. Had I been in hubby’s place, I would have snapped and barked out at everyone to stop talking. But the wonderful hubby, bore our irritating talks and drove on. The only sane person apart from hubby was Shantanu, who sat quietly in his seat. I had feared whether he would sit as he has never sat in one. But he took an instant liking to it and looked smug and happy. Maybe he was happy that he had finally got his seat.¬†¬†¬†

After around an hour of wrong turns, we found ourselves on the correct lanes, right roads and right turns. And then we started enjoying the sights around us. Soon we were enjoying the smooth roads, the disciplined driving, minimum to no overtaking, no honking, and finally finally no traffic. The scenary around was incredible. The white and grey clouds casted beautiful shadows on the mountains, the lush green farms were scattered with big fat sheeps, DDLJ like cows and hay rolls.    

   

 

The sheep were on a balanced diet and we were not allowed to feed them anything apart from the food purchased from their shops.

 

The clouds were just breathtaking. I have never seen more stunning clouds ever.  

   

Trail by the river

 

     

 

¬†We reached Aberfoyle¬†¬†at around 2 pm. Aberfoyle¬†is situated at the base of Craigmore. It is a base point from where you can visit the different lochs¬†and trossachs. It is also a part of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The Trossachs are also known as “Scotland in miniature” because of its stunning scenary. You can take many foot trails from here or visit the different lochs around the place. After a quick lunch, we took a small trail by the river. Then we decided but could never reach Loch Lomond. Instead we went to the Lake of Menteith . Shantanu went crazy on seeing the water and wanted to run right into it.¬†¬†

The Lake of Menteith

 

 By the time we got comfortable with the GPS and the roads, it was time to return. This time it was no to difficult, we only had rains.

On anxiety


For the past few months, I have been travelling to and fro office in our car with family. The first one to get off is my husband; his office is on our way. Then we head to my FIL’s office and lastly to mine. In the evening it’s the same order in reverse. However, the route that we take is different in the evening.

My husband’s office has a huge premise and there are three different gates which link to the main road and highways. The glitch here is that one of the three gates falls under the premise of a different company and can be used by their employees only. To make things worse, this is the nearest route for us as it’s a straight way to link to the highway and very convenient one during the traffic time. Taking this route reduces our travelling time by 30 mins.

My husband insists that we take this route everyday as it is the fastest. I, however stick to my values of right and wrong and the fear of getting caught and wish that we take a different route. For the record, we were stopped only once and our gate passing percentage is very high. However, once, when we were stopped, I had felt highly embarrassed and anxious. The security guard asked for the gate pass and my husband said that we didn’t have any and asked for letting us through as it was late in the evening. The guard remained adamant and asked us to take a different route. I felt guilty and anxious at the same time. The guilt part was more because I knew what we were doing was against the rules and we were in the wrong.

However, that episode itched in my mind and since then I have always dreaded passing through that gate. It raises my anxiety level and I can actually feel the poisonous bile raising its ugly head like a snake through my throat. I haven’t had an anxiety attack in many years. The attacks stopped after a long session with my psychiatrist when he gave me a one minute remedy on how to….. but here I digress. Let me not get into that. ūüôā

I used to be very anxious when I was a kid. I remember one time when I was appearing for a mid term school exam. I so dreaded taking the question from the teacher. She started from the other row and by the time she reached my desk, I had chewed all the nails on my ten fingers. That’s how restless I felt at that time. I don’t remember which paper it was but I didn’t flunk for sure. ūüôā

Anxiety continued its pursuit of making me nervous through small things. I used to be dead worried when it came to school. I used to check and re-check my school-bag, whether I had carried all the required books, whether am missing any project related items, etc. I also remember carrying additional books even if the lecture wasn’t scheduled for that day. During the rainy season, my mom always asked me not to wear socks to school, but to carry them in my bag and wear it once am inside the classroom, to avoid them from getting wet. I obeyed but felt embarrassed when the guard at the gate stopped me and took me aside and asked me to wear the socks before getting into the building.

Growing up, this anxiety grew with me and I was constantly in a worried state thinking over issues and things and what could and would happen and how I could resolve it. It was like carrying an unknown burden, fretting over small things and working myself up about nothing in particular. I watched my friends being cool about everything. They never worried about anything. Life was happening for them. I wondered how they could manage it so well.

Then one day, I remember I was attending my English lecture and not paying much attention as always. I was contemplating on some issue in my mind. Right then it just struck me that I cannot keep on worrying like this forever. If the thing wouldn’t turn out my way then I would just accept it like that. Fretting over it and racking up my brain wasn’t going to change the outcome. It was a late realisation but better late than never.

Since then, I have stopped getting anxious and worrying myself to death about anything. It runs in our family though, getting anxious and worrying like hell. Some, are improving however, there’s no hope for others. I empathise with them and their state of mind however I know that only they can change themselves. I have been lucky to have friends who remain calm and patient when I narrate my so called sorry situation to them. And from them I have learnt how to tackle this anxiety situation. I believe that you need at least calming agent (person) in your life, if you are highly anxious.

The party


I had mentioned about this party in a previous post. Now here’s an elaborate version. I wasn‚Äôt thinking much about the party as I was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to meet my friends (whom I would have met after a really long time, more than a year or so).¬† However, I thought since there is no way that am going to meet with my friends, I might as well try and enjoy this party. On Saturday, I decided upon with sari to wear with matching accessories, jewellery and all that.

Sunday, started on a gloomy note, with rain pouring down and leaving the roads dirty with muddy water. I settled on wearing a salwar suit, as my new sari would no doubt be spoilt. I always had a feeling that I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) as the monsoons made me feel sad, lonely, with winter and spring making me the happiest. Winters always made sleepy most of the time. Maybe it was because of the cold weather. Once, when I was all alone in the house and wasn’t waking up after repeated ringing of bells and telephone calls, my uncle had thrown water into the bedroom through a garden watering pipe to wake me up. Aaarrrhhh…but that’s another story. I digress.

So we were all ready to go to the venue. It was a birthday party of one of my husband’s niece. The entire family was invited. We must be around 150 odd people. The hall was well decorated with doll paintings on the walls, blue and red balloons sticking out from the roofs and along the pillars, and the bright lights and AC (yea, you need it even when it rains) making the hall very pleasant as against the dull climate outside. We wished the birthday girl and mingled with everyone around before taking comfortable seats and sticking to it.

A DJ was arranged. Though I do not have much experience being at discos and DJ parties, I can say this one was very good. The songs, the bass, the volume level, they were all in the right mode at the right level. The songs could definitely not be categorised as children’s songs, the children were still dancing to its tunes. Soon the games started. They were good ones including song and dance, couples (parent and child of course) and some group games.

Mostly the games were for kids and their parents. But soon even the elders were joining them in this gala song and dance and games. At one side, sat a man drawing tattoos on kids’ hands, face, cheeks, and where not. One by one each kid lined up for tattoos and were soon flaunting them to other kids. They were having the best time in the world. Then a huge cake was brought by the waiters and all family and friends gathered around the baby to cut it, all the while singing Happy Birthday of course!
 
Everyone then dispersed and sat on their chairs making way for the juggler, who came on one cycle tyre, to perform his tricks with rings, balls and sticks. That performance lasted for not less than half an hour. I had heard many stories from my husband that the people in his family really freak out when it comes to enjoying at parties. But this time, I had a live example in front of me. Apart from the kids, the elders were soon losing themselves in the music and dancing. My FIL and MIL also danced and they gave one funky performance at that. Everyone had lost their inhibitions and were dancing and twisting in their own sweet way without a care.

After a considerable amount of time, the group again dispersed, (I think they all were a bit tired physically but were still in high spirits). It so happened that just my two sisters-in-law and I were there on the dance floor at that time. The DJ had run out of songs, I think, and was playing some boring numbers or fillers. Finally, the song Kajara re.. started and the three of us started dancing.

My one sister-in-law has been a professional at dancing and all in the family are aware of her dancing feats. I had never danced in front of my in-laws, though they knew that I had learned dance. Let’s just say, I was inspired with the people around and gave it a shot. Soon, there were three Aishwaryas dancing in their own fashion and method. Slowly everybody sat down around us and watched. We had an audience. People were clapping, there was some major cheering, shouts, whistles, photo clicks and video shoots.

That was very exhausting and refreshing at the same time and it was an experience. What struck me most was the fact that everyone, elders and children had jelled together so well that it was difficult to make out which person belonged to which family. It looked like a huge bunch of people merrily dancing together.

Casting a web


Just when you think that things are settling down! This time it was the Internet that boggled me down. I had a long weekend planned. Things were looking bright. Then my office mail server started behaving weirdly and didn’t give me access to my email. For some reasons, it was of utmost importance to me that my email works, I had to send and receive many important mails during these days. But no, for the entire day the mail didn’t work.

Initially, I left it alone, thought it would work out on its own, since this problem had been a recurring one. The net in our office has a mind of its own. It will function as per its will. And when you want it desperately to work, it will lie dead. This time I was the victim.

Anyway, I had a blast this weekend. I had to attend a party in the family. The party was good with all friends and family. Though, on the same day, another get together was arranged by some of my very close friends. I had no choice but to attend this family function; which turned out to be very good. A DJ party was arranged. All youngsters and elders danced their hearts out. We were on the roll. I danced after a long long time and my body made me realise that later by giving me aching limbs and joints.

So coming back to my Internet and mail problem. I thought that I would check the mail from home (at my in-law’s place). But then the PC turned against me by refusing to start up. The entire weekend went without connecting to the net, leave aside the mails.

Coming to office today morning, I thought my problem would be resolved. But the problem still persisted. I spent almost the entire day talking with the IT guys, god, we even had a conference call! But still no solution. I was so very frustrated. I narrated the entire episode to my colleague including the dialogues shared between me and the IT guys. They said then had done a million changes and it should work fine within some time. When I told him all this, he said that this reminded him of one of the scenes in Matrix Reloaded. The one where Neo meets the Architect. Neo asks the architect, “Why am I here?” The architect gives him a long bhashan explaining him the complexities and problems in the different Matrix versions prior to this. Then Neo says, “That still doesn’t answer my question”. I felt exactly the same. Agreed, the IT guys must have done the required changes. But still I was facing the same problem and it wasn’t a solution of my issue.

I came back home (to my parent’s place) dejected. But then I cheered up, thinking, I would check the mail from home. But the Internet connection was out. The modem had no lights blinking and it was staring back at me blankly. Now suddenly, it has started working. I feel scared. If the modem and CPU become aware that they are working in perfect harmony, then they might stop and before they do, I want to post this up.

The frantic weekend


This was the most uptight weekend I had in recent times. I was running round the clock to accomplish things in my schedule and some that weren’t in the schedule. Firstly, parents had gone out for weekend on Friday itself so I was on my own. Friday night I had dinner at an aunt’s place and reached home by bed time. The plan for Saturday was not too optimistic but very tiring. I took the early morning bus to my in-law’s place as against the afternoon bus which I usually take.

I had to collect my visa and tickets from my uncle before going home. It got a bit late, since I had to meet him at his house, and then go to his office to collect the papers. After getting the tickets and visa to Singapore, I headed home by lunch time and I hardly had a couple of hours to pack my stuff before heading back to my parent’s home.

After packing my belongings, my mom-in-law and I fussed over the cooking items that I needed to carry. If you are going to stay away for a long time, then it’s easy to choose things… you choose everything. But if it’s just for 15 days, then its gruelling to contemplate on the items to carry. You keep thinking whether you would really really need it just for 15 days. But when it comes to cooking, you actually need all that stuff with right utensils and accessories. With only half of the things packed, my suitcase already almost reached the capacity limit allowed to carry. But then again almost every item is a must-have.

After deciding that we still need to pack many more items, I left home to take my evening bus. After a kind man helped me load the awful heavy bag onto the bus, I got a call from my cousin asking me whether I would like to join him for Bhootnath. I hadn’t seen any movie in a long time and this seemed a good opportunity. I knew it would be touch and go, however, I still agreed. The plan was to go over to my home and dump my baggage there and then go to the theatre. With the traffic moving at ant’s speed, I reached late. I had to drag my bag all the way through the traffic in the dirty road. Also, there was a jam which meant that getting an auto to my place would be impossible.

I just had 20 mins left before the movie start. My cousin and I then decided to leave the bag at his home and then go for the movie. We carried the bag four floors to his house and then almost ran through the traffic jam to get an auto. We reached the theatre (which is quite far) in a record time of 8 minutes. Since the tickets were booked on-line, we had to collect them at the counter. To our relief, the movie hadn’t started. Even the National Anthem was not yet played.

By the time we came home, I was drop-dead tired. Sipping through our chilled milk-shakes, my cousin, making a very innocent face said, “Did we really have to go to the movie tonight? We could have gone tomorrow.” My aunt and I then hit him with pillows.

Yesterday was hectic too. I shopped and shopped. Still I need to do more shopping. I wonder how am going to carry all these things!