Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crazy Scary Day

Yesterday turned out to be one of the most anxiety ridden, crazy day of my life. The GP left for his first overnight business trip since we got here, the night before. I stayed up really late, and went to bed, only when I just could not keep my eyelids apart,because that was the only way to ensure a good night's sleep, without frights and scares and ofcourse the dollops of self pity which comes easy. The morning, that followed, I did not even attempt to wake up, till the BB was up and all ready to go about his day.

This weekend was a long one, since Monday was a holiday, but there went my day of fun, with the GP gone. So halfheartedly I started off my day by serving the BB his breakfast, and told him to eat it, while I went about me day's work, expecting nothing more than some evening loneliness, and boredom. Obviously I did not know better. The BB did not have his breakfast, and since I told him he could not get off the dining chair till he had that single slice of bread, he decided to curl up on the seat and just lay there instead. Follow that up with me burning my wrist on the inner side, trying to clean my gas stove, not a big deal in itself, but its just that the location of the injury was a first timer. And this was the smallest thing to happen in the day.

I am very scared of flights, and I mean really really scared. For me taking a flight, whether myself or any of my loved ones, basically means a fifty-fifty chance of making it out alive. Blame it on the GP who made me watch a million episodes of Air Crash Investigations, instilling in me a lifelong fear of flying. And hence it is a firm rule, that the GP must inform me, as soon as he lands each time he takes a flight. Well, what do you think happened yesterday? His phones did not work when he landed, the international roaming did not kick in on either of his phones, he was in a rush to get to a conference with his colleague, and could not make a short stop call either, and I was freaking out beyond imagination. I left him text messages, kept trying his numbers, and eventually ended up even leaving him a mail. All this while the BB still did not have his breakfast and remained curled up on the chair. I finally take things into my own hands, and start feeding him, and he promptly pukes it all out. My mind is still busy wondering about the GP, and so I pick up the BB who seemed bored and tiered by then, make him drink some water, and put him down for a pre-lunch nap. I went back into the kitchen, and tried to cook lunch, but I was just too worried about the GP to concentrate. Somehow I manage to whip up something edible for lunch, bring the BB down for his lunch, he simply refuses to eat, so I leave him alone, and let him nap some more. Have my own lunch, get back to the laptop, and see a two liner from the GP telling me he is safe and sound, and just cannot call me. Though not happy, at the least I was off my worries on that front.

With the dipping mercury in the climate, a post lunch nap feels like a lovely option, with the BB wanting to nap, I just curl up next to him, under the cosy quilt and go off to la la land. We wake up, and I finally get some food into the BB, his first bits of the day. He seemed lazy and lethargic, but I blamed that all on his being without food since morning. He felt a bit warm, and I thought that was about being under the quilt most of the day. But at half past seven, a while after his meal, the BB's lethargy, did not quite leave me comfortable, so I thought I will check his temperature to calm my fears. Well, who knew, calm was the last thing I would be for the day. The thermometer in no time jumped to over a 102, and I was at my wit's end. I immediately called up a friend, who took us to the doctor in his car. The clinic was closing down for the day, and I had to beg them to have a look at the BB, and fortunately they did. The doctor checked up the BB a bit and simply asked me to give him some paracetamol, and get him back to the clinic in the morning if the fever did not go away. And I thought, my job was just to monitor his temperature through the night, and giving him regular doses of paracetamol. Apparently not.

A couple of hours after I administered the first dose of the medicine, the BB's temperature shot up again. I could not administer another dose for another hour and half atleast. The doctor had suggested sponging him with cool water to keep the temperature down, and I would have done that, had the BB not been shivering by then. It was close to midnight by then, and I was nonplussed about what to do next. I called up my friends again, and we decided to take him to the Royal Children's Hospital. We got there at midnight. The nurses, took down his details, I registered at the reception, and were told to wait, till his name was called out. Good enough, I thought, after all, how long could it possibly take in the Emergency Room of such a huge hospital. What did I know. It was way past 1, and not a single child had been called in. This was not looking good any longer. I asked the nurses again, requested them to check the BB's temperature, and it was a good 104 degrees, and he was sleeping peacefully in my arms. The nurse advised no medicine as long as he was comfortable. I waited. At close to two, I could not wait anymore, I asked, just how long would it take for a doctor to have a look at the BB. Apparently there were six other people waiting ahead of me, and the wait period was expected to be close to four hours, which the nurse exclaimed was a good thing, since in the day it is usually over six hours. What the hell does EMERGENCY mean, I wondered. My friends had office the next day morning, and looking at the way things were going, it just did not seem to make sense to wait anymore, so I decided to leave. Apparently a child with a head injury, had left just before we arrived after a long wait too. I am appalled at the state of health care here, and that is the least I can say post that horrifying experience. A little girl was howling in pain, falling asleep, and waking up howling in pain yet again, with absolutely no doctor to attend to her, nor a nurse or staff member who expressed even a hint of caring. When I spoke to the nurse and told her the BB had a temperature of over 103, she just coolly kept chewing her gum, and replied bluntly that she did not know what that meant. The reason, I am guessing, is that they use the Celsius scale. But her attitude, well, it was just amazing, and if you thought chewing a gum meant the nurse was a young girl, you are wrong, because she was atleast a good forty years old. I just came back home completely disgusted with the system, and lack of care and organisation, in a supposedly developed nation. If you cannot provide prompt health care services, in your hospitals' emergency rooms, I don't think the country has any right to call itself developed. It was scary enough with a burning up BB, in a new place without the GP, but the last thing I had expected was to come back from a hospital after waiting for over two hours, without a doctor even looking at my sick child.

Back home, I kept monitoring the temperature. As per the instructions of the nurses at the hospital, and the information sheet they gave me on children's fevers, I held back the medicine, for as long as I could. I was up till my eyes started to shut down of their own accord, and finally at 4am, I decided I needed to get rest, since I could not afford to fall off exhausted myself. The temperature was hovering around 102, and so I gave him a dose of the medicine, and then I prayed. Infact I called on God, as though He was my own father, and told Him, He had to, simply had to look after the BB while I get some sleep, and that the BB was His responsibility while I slept. At 5am, I woke up. The BB was sweating heavily, and his fever was gone. His clothes were damp with his perspiration, and his hair wet. I changed him, and slept again. I checked his temperature next at 9am, and it was hovering around 99. And that is the way it has been all day long today, hovering around 99. But the big deal is, that he has been happy and active all day, and most importantly has been eating a bit. Till the fever crosses, a 100, I don't give him any meds, so for all practical purposes, he is just fine. So I can thank the great Lord, for truly taking care of my son, when I actually handed over his care to Him. Breathing easier today, but checking on the BB's temperature every hour, who has suddenly started finding it very amusing and wants to be checked every five minutes instead.

I can only express my gratitude to God for making the fever go away, and hope that the BB is completely fine, before the GP gets back. And that is how my life goes, and makes me wonder if I will ever get back to working again, what would I do, when the BB falls ill, times when I completely lose my mind, and cannot think of being away from him even momentarily!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Couple Of Facebook Things

It is quite difficult to now imagine life, before the advent of blogs and Facebook, atleast for me. I know life was easier, more real, and there was much less strain on the eyes, but somehow the memories of it all have blurred now. Facebook seems such an easy place to connect, share, socialise. Anyone goes for a trip anywhere in the world, and I get to see what it was like, birthday celebrations, even gorgeous food cooked, I can see it all, from oceans and continents away. And yet the medium irks and amazes me all the time.

The feature that suggests friends, is fun, suddenly you see names, that tug at your foggy memory, and sometimes it clears up to show a name from the past. What I find really fun, is sometimes seeing the 'mutual friends' list. For someone who went to the same school or college as me, I would expect a list consisting of people from the same institution as mutual friends, and that is no surprise. Sometimes there are suggestions for people, whom I I have never known, and so I check if there are any mutual friends, since I cannot really trust my memory, whole and sole. And there in that list would be a friend from school, one from work, another I know through blogs, and just makes me wonder, if in fact there really is just six degrees of separation. And how in fact strangers are not really all that unknown to us.

And then there has to be something that really gets my goat ofcourse. I love, and I mean absolutely love seeing the photos of my friends on Facebook. But each time there is a new set of photos up there, and I comment on them, because I really cannot resist, or even 'like' them, my mailbox is them full of a million messages regarding every other comment on those photos that have followed mine. And then the 3 or 4 meaningful messages in my inbox, hidden within 50 from Facebook, often get overlooked or sent to the trash. When I comment on a photo, I don't have any desire to know who else did, unless the person whose pic it is, responds to the comment or someone directs something at me. I try resisting my comments, till a few days after the photos have been posted, but very very rarely succeed, and that means a huge deluge of notification mails will flood my Inbox unnecessarily. And I hate that.

Tell me people, all of those who use Facebook, do you love it, hate it, or like me find somethings nice, and some not so much about it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Some Pictures

need no words!

Yes that's the BB, and as much as he would love to play with the cat, a friend of ours holds, he is also a bit scared, and hence his hand is inching forward so trepidly.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Please Don't Smoke

This post could, and will eventually contain some points about how harmful the act of smoking is to the physical body, but I am writing this to express my strong dislike of smokers. I understand that smokers, are addicts, just like many others, who are addicted to drugs, drinks, television, video games or even sex(yes, that is the new one doing the rounds, sex-addiction. huh?). And honestly if anyone has an addiction that they can nurture without harming others, its none of my business to poke my long nose anywhere, but smoking, well its wrong left, right and centre from where I see it. The smoker himself/herself, has consciously decided to burn his/her lungs, but that in no way means they can burn mine. My tolerance towards smoking has gone from high to nearly zero in that last few years. I just cannot stand it anymore.

Smokers smoke everywhere, anytime, anyplace, and they expect the rest of the world to just sit around and inhale the toxic fumes they emit, which is just disgusting. On two recent occasions, I have come back home enraged because of inconsiderate, and addicted smokers. On one occasion a lady brought her child to play, in the play area of the park, got out of the wood chips covered ring and smoked away to glory, as if the smoke would not come into the area the kids were playing. I gave her the dirtiest look I could garner. In a second, more horrifying incident, I saw a three or four month old baby being carried by a woman(possibly the mother) who was happily puffing away on her cigarette, and walking along with a man, doing the same. The baby was right in her arms, inhaling in every breath, the toxic fumes. If you cannot quit smoking, atleast don't breathe it out into your baby's lungs woman, I felt like screaming out.

Image picked up from another blog.

Smoking is a terrible addiction. Its great that the government here, is more proactive about discouraging it. One look at the cigarette packs is enough to scare someone. It has graphic images of terrible diseases caused by smoking, and one needs to see it to believe just how scary they are. (I am not putting them up here, but for some really frightening images, go to this blog, from where I have picked up the image above.) But then they are smokers who will not be daunted by such things ofcourse. I would have nothing against them, if they smoked within their own homes, and ingested all those fumes themselves, but when they let it out in the air, especially near the BB it just totally and completely infuriates me. Because this is one addiction that harms people around the smoker as much as it does the smoker himself or herself. And then people who have never smoked in their lives and neither wish to, end up bearing the ill effects too just by being around them.

A couple of things I believe every smoker should always keep in mind is, not to smoke in the homes of other people, nor in public places. Since most malls here, have strict no-smoking policy, every entrance and exit will be crammed with smokers out for a puff before going back in for their time at the mall, so there is no way one can enter or exit the mall without inhaling some of the noxious fumes. While I often end up holding my breath for a few seconds, I cannot actually pinch the BB's nose shut, to keep the fumes away from him. Many of you, who read this, may think I am being overly uptight or stuffy about this. But trust me I am not. I have no issues with drinkers, who drink themselves, without unleashing the effects on others. Smoking is different, because it creates passive smokers out of everyone who is around, and it is unfair. If I am not a smoker, why should I face the ill-effects, because someone else cannot control their urge? And imagine the little baby, with the parents blowing smoke rings into her face at such a young age, what is that doing to her delicate body and health.

One of the many online sites describing the ill-effects of smoking, is what I am linking up here, and asking you to tell me after reading this, whether it is acceptable to fall prey to the ill-effects without ever having taken a puff yourself ?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This Post Would Probably Not Have Been

But human niceness always overwhelms me, especially when done without motive or purpose. It overwhelms me, because I see very little of it, in the world today and more so because it inspires me to try a bit harder to be a better human being. Touch wood for such wonderful people.

The other day, I was checking my mail-box, mind you, the mail-box and not the inbox, and I laid my hands on a slightly lumpy envelope. Pulled it out, and surprisingly, it was hand-written and addressed to me. The envelope felt exactly like it was holding a rakhi. It was surprising, because I don't think anyone would really 'write' to me. So I come home and open the envelope, to find a note and a small package. To get the rest, you will need the background story, so here goes....

Rewind to a couple of weeks, and after a lot of trying over the last few months, I finally found a sideboard/buffet for my dining space. The new ones in stores cost nothing less than $800, and I definitely did not want that, and so I was waiting for the right one to turn up on one of the trading sites. Used was what it had to be, and then I had grand plans of a floor lamp in the corner. The sideboard that I found was for $30, and it was five years old, from IKEA. I mailed the guy who was selling it the night I saw it, and the next morning found his reply, saying he would like to hand it over to me that very day or the next at the most, if I wanted it. Good enough I thought, and asked him if he could deliver to my address, which was quite a way off his own location and he agreed to that too. Transportation is expensive business in this part of the world, and this man delivered it to me for free. It was brought to my home that very afternoon, and the man told me, he, himself had brought it all the way from London, but could not fit it into him home here. Felt like it came all the way across the world just for me. It is exactly what I wanted, no glass exteriors, no sharp edges, and just the perfect height. And the price.... well let me just say I found a steal. (And would you believe it, the very same day I also found a lamp on sale at the same site for $10.)

However when the GP sat down to assemble the sideboard, two supports for a shelf was missing. I just mailed the guy saying they were missing, and if he finds them, let me know, and we would drop in and pick it up. And that was the end of it, till I received the envelope in my mail. There in the envelope, nicely packed were the two supports, and a note saying he had found them, and was hence mailing them to me. And I think that really was sweet of him, not because that is the right thing to do, but because very few people would take the effort to do that, take the extra effort, without anything to gain from it.

I was very excited about my new possessions of course, for the warm glow it added to my dining space, and the things got in place just before Easter, just perfect. I wanted to click photos and do a post, but just never got around to doing it, and would probably never have, had it not been for the shelf supports which came in the mail. So here I proudly present to you my gorgeous new possessions.

Doesn't it look absolutely beautiful?

And here is presenting a closer look of my onion lamp. It would have been hidden from view, on the floor, so I places it on the sideboard instead, and I think it looks just perfect.

For $40, that's a bright warm corner in my home!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Of Parenting

When, if ever, is the right age for parents to leave their child in the care of others, is a question that keeps coming to me often these days, since we started sending the BB to the care centre. I have a million doubts about, whether I am doing the right thing or not? The GP is much more determined on this front, and is sure that we need to let him be, for him to grow and learn. I do agree about the growing and learning bit, but, I still am not sure.

Anyone who has been reading me, is sure to know that I am quite a paranoid mother. I work hard at keeping it in check, but sometimes it gets to me. After we shifted to this place, the BB has finally had the opportunity to spend time regularly with kids of his age, at the playgroup, the care centre, the park. And I am very happy about it, what concerns me though, are the things he ends up learning at times. The BB has, so far never been an aggressive or violent child. No, he is no angel, and can quite scream and cry his heart out when things don't go his way, and be a complete brat when it so pleases him, but he is not aggressive in his attitude or behaviour with other kids. Correction, was not. Overnight, it seems, he has learnt to push, shove and horror of horrors, grab the throat. I have seen the kids at the centre, push and hit each other, playfully, when I go to drop the BB there, and I was a little concerned about it, but to see him pick it up so soon, I really don't know what to do. It is quite mortifying as a parent, to know, that a child, we think we are bringing up well, go and push or shove another child. And yet, I realise after a lot of thinking, that it is all a part of his learning curve, possibly, time for his first lesson in selective learning, from what he sees around him.

He needs to spend time with children his age, to facilitate a normal social development, and when I let that happen, I cannot control what he learns from there. And we cannot hand pick the kids he spends his time with, just as we cannot hand pick the people we work, go to school or move around with. The important thing is know what to learn and what to leave out from what we see all around ourselves. Brings me back to my original thinking, that we can only impart, or rather try to impart the right values and principles to our children, and hope they use it well, because they will eventually leave the nest someday. But isn't three a age too young to impart values, and expect them to stick to them all the time. And hence I wonder, what in fact is the right age to let a child, infact go solo. Had we been in India, I would not have a choice but to send him to school/pre-school by now. And it would not necessarily be a place of my choice! Coming back to learning things that are not-so-good, I am again divided on what to teach him here. I have started consistently repeating that he needs to be nice to his friends, not hurt them, share his things and such, but what also worries me is, that what should he do, if it is being done to him? I have had doubts about this earlier and still do. Possibly teaching him, never to be the first one to do it, or do it to kids who are not bothering him are the first step, but I wonder how often would a child remember what his mother told him at home, when he is out there with other kids playing. I do understand it is a part of growing up, possibly the first instance in his life, where he will learn the importance of selecting what he absorbs. And yet, he seems to be too young for it all.

Over the past few years, I have come to realise parenting is the biggest test in self-doubt. We end up second guessing ourselves at every step. Was this the right way to go or not, should I be doing things this way or another and the list is endless. At the end of the day, what really matters is that we try our best to impart the right values, or in the least, help the child develop his own value system. And I guess every trying step now, is just a way of reaching that ultimate goal. And there is no doubt that he is also learning nice things being with other kids, and that can never be discounted, just because of a few things learnt, which we don't quite like.

The BB is still at an age, where I can hug and hold him, and soothe away all his troubles. I cannot even express in words, the immense satisfaction it gives me, as a parent, but I also wonder about the times, when this will not be enough. I love being able to make his crying stop, the pain go away, the anger melt, by holding him close. And yet I already see things starting to change, where just a mumma-hug is no longer enough. How hard would it be to see my own child in pain and not being able to make it go away with just a cuddle, and some soft words in a few years from now? I just don't ever ever want to let go of this little mumma-magic I possess, that is so effective till now. And I know it will kill a little bit of me, when it stops working or when it stops being enough!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Somethings Never Change

He loved it more than a year back, and still does. Wonder till when the obsession will last.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Don't Want In!

Eons, of time ago, I used to have a 'career' or to be precise, I worked for money. It was corporate life, a nine to five routine, doing a task that neither excited nor captivated me. I slogged, like a donkey, doing something I did not really care about. It was fun, for a bit because I was fresh out of college, doing office, was a new and thrilling experience, and definitely earning my own money had a great thrill attached to it. But I think a year down the line, the newness wore off and the drudgery and stress began to set in. Five hours of daily travel in public transport, which involved, supremely packed local trains at rush hour, doing something that did not make me happy, in an environment that pretty much numbed my mind, and senses, left me with little joy, besides my paycheck.

Its been a long time now, I quit when I still had something left within to survive, and that was followed by motherhood, and it has been a long vacation ever since. But for a while now, I have been itching to get back to a working life, doing something that would be fulfilling and satisfying, I am feeling the need to get out, and add some more to my days. And while these thoughts are rumbling in my mind, I read a post by LiveOnImpulse, and it brings back to me all my corporate nightmares, vividly. And suddenly, my resolve to not go back into the crazy corporate jungle is strengthened yet again. Just as I was ready to just get on the bandwagon yet again, I remembered, exactly why I had left, and why I never can go back again. I am not suitable to work in on office, that is just the way I am. I connect with people as people, and I cannot spend most of my waking hours with some, who I can neither like, nor trust. Its a dog eat dog world out there, and being quite incapable of clever manipulations, I end up being all bitter, angry and frustrated. I was at work for just over three years, in an IT firm, as a fresher, and even then I can say, I saw it all. Groupism, male bonding, excessive bitching, young girls pretending to flirt to get a senior's favour, men trying to score with their female colleagues one way or another, cheap, dirty politics, using the communal angle to gain the boss' favour, ganging up against people, pretending to work, and ofcourse blatantly flattering and sweet talking the boss, using connections to get an foreign onsite posting, even blackmailing for the same. A great example of flattering the boss, was when a rather senior member of our team, ordered a cake for our project manager, to commemorate the day they found her lost passport in UK. All I could think was...... WOW! I cannot do it, I just cannot. I will move mountains for you, if I really bond and connect, but otherwise, I just cannot pretend. I can maintain professional relationships with people, but it has to be a two way thing, and that is the only way it works for me.

Coming back, reading the post brought back to me, a particular thing we worked for in our project, which probably became the bane of my corporate existence. I worked on a project that managed a billing software for a telecom giant. Now the client being an old company had various discount schemes in place, and wanted to simplify the process, by forming one simple discount scheme, that would be applicable to all its customers. It was called UDS (Unified Discount Scheme) or VDS (Volume Discount Scheme). The concept was simple enough, the more you spend, or commit to spend, the greater is your discount. And that is all it was. There were slabs(quite like the income tax ones) and depending on which slab the customer belonged to, his discount was calculated. I hope I have not lost anyone here, but to make it clearer, each of the telecom customers, had to commit to a certain amount, say x, that they would spend. Now based on where x, fit into the discount table, his discount percentage would be fixed too. Suppose the table gives 5% to anyone who spends upto 30, 7.5% to anyone who spends between 31 and 60 and 10% to anyone who spends above 60, so if x is 43, the discount for the customer would be 7.5%. That is all this scheme was about. I read about it the first time, and thought this is so straight forward and simple, and left it that. That possibly was my biggest mistake.

There were conference room meetings to explain this to the team every couple of days. I used to sit through them silent, because I did not think it complicated at all. But then at one point I started wondering if I was over simplifying something, that was actually not quite that easy. I went through the documents again, and they just reinforced my understanding of the scheme. But the way the rest of my colleagues pretended to be solving a very complex problem, it just left me surprised. I say pretended, because if I can understand it, it should be nothing to someone, who has been working in that field for over 13 years right? But that did not seem to be the case. The girl who had joined with me, F, joined the bandwagon, pretended to be all indepth into it, something that did not have much depth if you ask me, she was shifted to a more 'important' subgroup, I guess because she was so enthusiastic and committed. Some of my senior colleagues, came and praised her abilities and understanding to me, and I still remained dumb, because the thing still looked so damn simple to me, that I did not understand what was so difficult to understand in it, by trained professionals, what was the damn fuss all about? And it was then that I realised, that working in an office, is not just about doing your job, doing it well or efficiently, but a hell lot about showing, possibly showing, more than actually doing the work. I could not deal with it, more because it hurt to see a project manager, who had spent years in her job, not being able to distinguish between true efficiency and pretense of dedication. When we had started on our project, F and I were given the same work, I would finish mine in half a day, and she would take 2 days to do the same. And trust me it was basic simple testing work, nothing that needed loads of time. But completing the job well in time, did not get labeled as efficiency, instead staying late on the day of the deadline, and doing it was termed as dedication. And that kind of pretense is just not my cup of tea.

I had two options, if I planned to continue to work there, either to give up, join them, and do what they all did, or accept my fate, and learn to live with bitterness and disgust. Since I could not deal with either, and I was fortunate enough to have the option of doing it, I quit. And believe me the first few months after I left, I could feel my irritation, anger and bitterness gradually dissolving, restoring me to my former self. And that is one of the reasons, I never ever want to go back to corporate life, where I need to fight and compete, and my efficiency alone,is not good enough for me to make my mark. Ofcourse, IT is not really my cup of tea either, and I don't want to fill my days doing that either. And when these memories come back to me, I feel happy and content being at home, not fulfilling my day maybe, but atleast away from negative influence.

[This is in no way to demean IT professionals, who work really hard and well, and more importantly enjoy their work. I have many a friend in the field, I should know! And maybe not every office or group is this way. And it is my personality because of which I cannot deal with the situation in an assertive way, and I really admire all the people, who manage their careers positively without getting overwhelmed.]

Addendum - Would really like to know if you get the UDS/VDS concept or does it really seem complicated to anyone???

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's Not To Like?

About a weekend, that brings in this.

Before anyone gets overwhelmed, all of it, is budget shopping, my favourite kind, to gear ourselves for the upcoming winters, since we have very little to keep ourselves warm in the outdoors. Lived in warm places the last few years, so never needed much, but its just autumn now, down here, and we are already feeling the chill! But whatever the reason, and whatever the merchandise, shopping always makes me happy. Yes, I am as shallow and materialistic as one gets.... and unfortunately have no shame admitting it. Still beaming with the weekend hangover, yes, that's me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Have A 'Partner'

Its been a few weeks now, since I have been wondering about how certain things in Australia are in complete contrast to how it is in India. Small little things keep coming to me every now and then, about how diametrically opposite the two countries are in their social set up. I have neither lived here long enough, nor do I know enough people to know it all, and hence these are just my minimal observations, no absolutes, and definitely no judgments.

I was talking to one of the BB's carers at the day care centre he attends, when I went to drop him. She was talking to me and mentioned the GP as, 'your partner'. It took me a second to let it sink in. And there have been a few other occasions, when I was asked if I had a partner, or who is my partner and such like. When we were newly married, it used to take both the GP and me quite a bit of effort to use the words husband and wife, to talk about each other to others, but over seven years, that has kind of sunk in. Though I still prefer mentioning the GP by his name, instead of as 'my husband', but the 'husband' has infact become a familiar territory. And now it goes to partner. I can imagine in my head going back to India and mentioning to the GP as my 'partner' and getting the looks, and sniggers. (Just to mention, not everyone I know in India is open minded, liberated and ultra modern.) Infact back in India, if anyone mentioned someone as their partner, I would not really know what exactly to make of it. What I am still not clear about here, is whether, 'partner' is the general umbrella term for anyone who is a boyfriend/girlfriend/live-in-partner/husband, or is it just about someone one lives with. Whatever it is, I will need to now condition myself to accept the fact that I have a 'partner'!

Having grown up in India, in the era of Doordarshan, population control is ingrained in every cell of my being. Remember the seedy ads of Nirodh and Mala D? Pseudo intellectuals like me, thrive on the illusion of being 'educated' and aware of our birth control needs. People who go beyond the two child limit, set by the hum do hamaare do(Two of us and two of ours) slogan of the government agencies quite seem like nincompoops, who can only claim to be lame. And then there are financial constraints ofcourse, each child born would require donations for admissions from the around-the-corner playschool right up to their PhD degree if they wish to slog till then. That is what my mind is used to thinking as the way to be. And here I come to Australia, a land where the government pours in huge amounts of money in the hands of parents, each time they add to the population of the country. Pretty much every mother I meet here has three children or more, almost every time I see families out on weekends and holidays, they are with three or four kids. And it has yet to stop striking me as being in such stark contrast to urban India, where we usually have atleast one and in many cases two parents per child. Coming from a country which is bursting at seams, with the amount of people it has, to a country, that is desperately trying to increase its population, the difference would not be lost even on the blind.

One of the things I am loving here, is greeting or atleast smiling at people, we pass by, on the streets or parks, and even if its a male, my smiling at him does not mean anything more than a polite greeting. Its easier to just nod or smile, than to force my line of sight elsewhere, when another human being is in close proximity. I used to hate having to do that earlier, that or stony stares returned in the like, smiling at an unknown male was quite out of the question of course. A friend, who brought in his Indian bride here, was rather worried at how she would blend in, since she never smiled at unknown people, or even the people handling the cash counters at different stores, which is quite the norm around here. And the reason was simple enough, we don't really go around smiling at everyone back home, because its not taken well in the Indian social structure. And to change a habit held for close to three decades in a few months, is not a mean task. While a girl or woman smiling at random strangers maybe taken as a definition of bad character somewhere, not doing the same is perceived as being rude some place else.

The one thing I am desperately missing here though, is my favourite juice, the orange-carrot blend, without additives. Its crazy to see how every damn bottle/tetra-pack of juice that I pick up, has additives. The funniest was, one that boldly claimed 'no added sugar', and had sucrose in its ingredients. Even the ones without preservatives or sugar, have added vitamins and taste enhancers. There is virtually no option of buying additive-free juice. So even the possibly healthy drink option of a juice, is not quite that healthy, once you do look at the contents. If there is some place that sells, additive-free, plain and simple juice, I am still to find it. In fact, for the first time in my life, I have actually started looking at labels and the ingredients before buying the products.

And with each passing day, these little things are feeling a little less different to me, hopefully a sign that I am settling in. And yet it is quite impossible to not always be able to spot the difference, when I have grown up in society which varies so much in certain ways. I am making a new home here, but the one I have grown up in, will always hold a special place in my heart!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nothing To Write

Too Many Things On My Mind,
Yet, very little to do,
Blogging needs its own time,
The lack of which I rue.

The mind is confused,
My thoughts astray,
So what can I then write?
In my attempts to get inspired,
I end up with a more confused mind.

Its not that I have too much to do,
Nor that I am a busy bee,
But the mind is just not calm enough,
To get a post out of me.

At least I get to read the blogs,
Of those who have things to say.
And I feel thankful to the Lord,
That not every mind is rotting my way.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Energy Cleansing

I believe very deeply in energies emanating from all living beings, what is also commonly referred to as vibes. I am sure everyone has felt it at some point of time or another in their life. Sometimes a being in a certain place or in the presence of a certain person, just fills one up with peace, calm, happiness and certain other places or people suddenly gives us the creeps, without any apparent reasons. Those are the kind of vibes I am talking about. I came across this wonderful article about clearing ourselves of negative energy, that may come our way, and thought I will share it with people who read my blog, and hopefully it can be used by you too. If you are interested in vibes or energies, you will see that various lines of thought, do meet and intersect at various points on this topic, like yoga, meditation, reiki, even ayurveda at points. There are commonalities in all of them, about the seat of energy in our bodies, what organs hold our negative energy etc. This article too, has a lot of things, that can be found to concur with other lines of thinking, and I t=really liked it, so I am representing the entire article here.

Let Go of Negative Energy: Easy Techniques to Help

(NaturalNews) Ever had a conversation or incident with someone that left you upset for a day or two? Maybe there's someone in your life, perhaps a boss or family member, that this happens with regularly? Energy is exchanged in conversation and in events, and if this happens, you've likely gotten a dose of bad energy. If this happens regularly with certain individuals, it's likely that they're accustomed to spreading it, and also that you're not sure how to let it go. Especially for the more sensitive among us, negative energy can sometimes be hard to let go.

Letting the energy dissipate on its own can sometimes take a day or two, but it's a real bummer when someone else's poor communication, lack of consciousness, or proneness to being emotionally triggered and verbally or otherwise attacking others affects us long after the moment the incident happened in. Fortunately, though, there are a few ways to expedite the removal of negative energy from us and shorten the amount of time it drags down our own consciousness.

One easy way is to simply brush it off. When people often offer this well intentioned advice, they aren't speaking literally - but here we are. Literally, take one hand and brush your arms, legs, head, and back. Understand that energy literally sits around us so wipe your body clean, like you were removing a layer of dust from your skin. You'll instantly feel better as the cloud of bad energy is brushed from your immediate surroundings. It's best to do this outside and ideally in nature. As the primary method, any other method should be used after this one.

Another technique is to shrug it off by shrugging your shoulders, literally. Energy, especially the energy of resentment, which is the feeling that someone has done something wrong to you, often sits in our shoulders - along our gallbladder meridian. By shrugging your shoulders up and down several times, you're helping that energy move and when it moves, it can be removed - instead of sitting stuck inside you.

Blowing it off is another technique that can help and again, literally. So breathe deeply and exhale quickly and forcefully through your mouth. This will help remove the poor energy from your internal environment.

Sea salt can also transmute negative energy. An easy solution is to combine a couple tablespoons of quality sea salt with a couple tablespoons of coconut or olive oil. Then, mix it with a cup of hot water to dissolve the sea salt and pour it slowly over your head and body in the shower. Massage it into your scalp and body for a few minutes to create your own at-home negative energy cleansing spa treatment. Afterward your skin will feel wonderful and the energy will be transmuted. Soaking in a bath with a cup of sea salt is also a nice way to relax while releasing bad energy.

As with many problems in the body, deep body cleansing can help too. This is especially true, if you're the one who's spreading the negative energy because it's likely you're holding quite a bit inside - and it often stays stuck and held in place by toxicity. Colon and liver cleansing are particularly helpful because stuck emotions often reside in the colon, and a toxic liver easily feels anger. In fact, if your liver is clean, it's difficult to feel anger on any sort of regular basis. However, stuck emotions that trigger us or drag down our consciousness can be anywhere in the body and if this is the case, deeper cleansing will be needed to remove them.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Romance Of A Lifetime

I love writing. Writing on paper, just about anything. When I was in junior school, I would just pick up a magazine or a book, and start copying the text on a notebook, on the pretext of improving my handwriting, but actually just enjoying writing. Just the feeling of running my writing instrument over a piece of paper, gives me a feeling of amazing calm and sometimes even an inherent feeling of happiness of some sort. I love writing, the old fashioned way.

The world today though is a world of electronic writing. Its all typed on our computers, and stored, writing on paper, is time consuming, and wastes precious resources as well, we are meant to believe. And without a doubt, the electronic media, gives us greater reach. Blogging cannot happen on paper can it? But that does not mean I don't miss having a legitimate excuse to write on paper. And the sad bit is that with the blitzkrieg of alternative forms of writing, the tools for old-fashioned writing have started to dwindle. And I miss them.

I have a big weakness for stationary, and it has taken me tremendous self control, to actually stop buying some each time, I see it. But of late, I have hardly seen anything that tempts me. I remember when I was in college, a visit to the stationary store would never be complete without atleast one pen purchase. The shopkeeper knew my room-mate and me so well within our first year, that he would always show us the new pens which had arrived, and have the test writing pad out, for us to try it, and pick a new one, or one of our regular favourites. I just loved pens, and the Mitsubishi ball point, the Reynolds Jetter and Reynolds Fine, were my regular favourites. My criteria when selecting a pen, is a fine nib. I am no fan of 'bold' writing, nor of fat, blunt nibs. I like my nibs to be fine and precise, and that was the main reason that these were my favourite pens, besides of course the fact that the price suited my pocket beautifully. The 'jetter' happened to be quite a precious possession in those days prices at Rs.18.

The images have been picked from their official website.(http://reynolds-india.com and http://www.uniball.com.au/ballpoint_range.html)

My favourite though is a classic fountain pen. I love filling ink in my pen from a bottle, and writing with it, somehow, feels very grand and classy. And I believe it is also a lot more environment friendly than using up huge amounts of plastic for the ball points and gel pens, where often there is no option to even replace the refill, and the pen simply needs to be discarded as a whole.College, required loads of writing, and high speed at that, so the ball points were favoured heavily over the fountain pens, but my love for them never really ebbed. Back in the era, when I first started writing with a pen, in school, it was compulsory to use ink-pens, and I think my fascination began right then. I remember spending hours washing my pens in warm water, cleaning them with a brush, sourcing syringes and needles to re-fill the cartridges, of the pens that could only be used with cartridges. It was something I loved doing. I even had a pen than had once belonged to my long deceased grandfather, and a Sheaffer at that. I adored that pen. But somehow its been a while now, since I have used an ink pen, and I cannot even find my favourite ball points here. So I ended up stocking on a pile of cheap thick nibbed, disposable pens, for use around the house, when I got here, but was rather unhappy about it.

So I started searching for reasonably priced fountain pens, from all my online research, the stores that seemed to be selling them, had only very high end ones, with prices in the region of $100, as a start. I was surprised, and saddened to know, that fountain pens seemed to have become a thing for connoisseurs only now. Students here, are not required to write with ink-pens when they receive their pen licence and are permitted to shift to a pen from a pencil, and that possibly is the main reason that fountain pens cannot be easily sourced around here. And I kept looking till, I found a store that sells mini-fountain pens really cheap at $1.75. Was I over joyed or what? I promptly walked up to the store and bought myself two. They did not sell the cartridges, and had only a cartridge each, in the pens, to start me off, and I was to buy the cartridges from elsewhere. And it is then that I realised that those plastic contraptions called ball-points and gel pens have so taken over the world, that it is almost impossible to find ink or cartridges. It took me a few weeks of asking around to find a store which sold them, and even with them, I had to place an order, so that they can source the thing for me. Its close to impossible to get myself a syringe and a needle here, so the cartridges cannot be recycled, and that leaves me with the option of going through the lengthy and expensive procedure of buying cartridges. But whatever it is, I am loving writing with the fountain pens, mini as they maybe.

My latest precious possessions, using them frequently maybe an expensive affair however.

I believe that fountain pens are more environment friendly, and they have a sense of romance and class about them. It would be great to encourage kids to take it up, and make them the preferred writing tools. I would hate to see them become obsolete, or antiquated technology visible only in museums.