Tuesday, 15 December 2015

running short.....

I have been a regular short-distance runner (mind you only outdoor) for about two years now. Like my age I'd like to believe that even my running has evolved and it has meant different things to me at different stages.
perfect weather @ 8am..

When I started two years ago, it was for a purpose. I was told it will help me to loose weight faster. From my first 1km jog, I pushed myself along and got to my 1st 5km. That journey had it's challenges too- is my pace consistent, do I need someone to run along with, should I monitor my runs? 

Finding the answers to all these was never easy, but with my 'sole objective' of shedding those kilos, none of these took precedence.Time passed and within a year I ran a few 10km's (even a 12km run). By this period even my weight loss campaign had succeeded. I had shed close to 13 kilos and it was the fittest I had ever been.

What next? Now the goal was achieved. Did I have a new goal for myself? Did I have a
Pit-stop for a selfie
half-marathon on sight? Nope. But yet I enjoyed my runs. I craved for them mid-week and couldn't wait for the weekend. Did I need a partner? Nope was the answer. I often crossed paths with my husband (during an early morning hour), but we never joined each other.

Is it my 'me time'? No- not really- yes am alone when I run but I have a purpose in mind (to run my set distance). Someone once very nicely told me, "Me time has to be without a purpose. It means total unwinding time." For me the runs are more about 'thinking time'. They help me to sort out my day, my articles, my ideas, my chores and give me the time to listen to my favourite playlist.

There are 'lazy' days (like today), when I just couldn't make it for my 5:30am run. I often itch till the kids are packed off to school, and I find my routes to run (sometimes it's on the road after school drop-offs), sometimes it's at a trail I get to.

So what's with my run these days? Is it a new route? Is it about running more? Or is it to run faster? For me it has a different goal each time. If it's about a new elevation, the next week it maybe a new route, maybe a different time of the day and sometimes it maybe just about running more...

But happily, now it's a part of me, something I wait to do. It's no longer about wanting to run a half-marathon- it's just about me enjoying my run.....

Monday, 30 November 2015

roasted chicken and Xmas.....

Wednesday- We have lately been trying to 'solve' issues at school for our 3-year old. Yes- 3 years old! She surely has a mind of her own and thinks a bit too much. From social to emotional issues, it's all stuck in her head. The 'thinking chair' placed in her class is her biggest enemy. She feels it would be the biggest crime if she got there even by chance. Of course everyone from her teachers to us at home are only consoling her, cajoling her and hoping this is a phase that shall also pass. And for me it has been about understanding and accepting that what worked for my elder one may not work for the younger.

Her current phase got me thinking. With my elder one the problems at this age were different. It was more her choice of food at school, her shyness to open up and make friends, her obsession towards tidiness and perfection. And then you realise, how different each person in a family is. Your kids so strangely have a bit of you in them. 

If one likes cheese, the other ketchup, if one likes the dosa crisp the other likes it soft, if one keeps her cupboard clean the other can't be bothered. If one likes her chicken 'roasted', the other just wants 'chicken'- period. If one likes sporty stuff, the other likes to sing and dance at the drop of a hat! I always recollect what someone once told me, "God does an excellent quality control job in every home." And how true it is.

Friday- This Friday evening was spent taking off our Diwali lights and transferring them to the Xmas tree. For the kids it's another festival coming up. But the elder one has now started asking questions about religion, places of worship, what am I, etc. I think having been brought up in a family that made me believe always that 'it's all in the mind' is making it easier for me to answer her questions. 

She sees Biryani being cooked every Eid, Diwali being festive time and the Xmas tree up every December since she was born. The tree in our home is actually older than her! There are questions now asked, "Is it okay if I pray at a mosque or a church and not always at a temple?" My answer, "It's fine even if you sit just on your bed and pray." 

I wonder if I asked such questions in my childhood or did I blindly accept what was told. Of course I recollect celebrating Eid at friend's homes, tying rakhi to family friends, celebrating Diwali and Onam with equal excitement. Being a witness to the riots that Delhi faced in 1984 and sheltering 'close friends' in the confines of our home. Each of that left a mark on me and made me more accepting of people and their thinking as I grew up.

This may be a small way in which I can teach them to accept people and their beliefs just the way they are....

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

The start-up way of life....

Sunday, 6:00pm- As I was running (for a change in the evening this weekend), I started thinking of what to write about next. Then I wondered what's kept me so busy the last few weeks. Was it the festive season, was it my new work, was it just me mentally elsewhere. It was a combination of all. The headline of this feature came first to my mind and then the text started flowing..It's strange. The norm is to usually write the feature and then pull out your headline. But often in my case, I have my headline clearly in front of me and then my thoughts start flowing..

Tuesday- I got the biggest surprise after ages. An old and very dear ex-colleague-now a good friend called me out of the blue from Canada. These days receiving 'out of the blue' calls is a bit rare (atleast for me). We were speaking to each other after almost 8 years. She had witnessed one of my start-up's during take off and was a rock solid support. Of course after the hour-long chat (and it's very rare these days that you connect with friends after all these years), she took me back to the few of the risks I had taken and moved on those paths without looking back.

Every start-up I have been a part of (in the last 15 years) left me with something extra I could imbibe into my personal life. My ability to take on risks, patience, taste success, perseverance, work under any environment (from a bench and chair, moving onto a cabin), and the biggest lesson of 'build your own reputation'. All the organisations I was a part of, are excelling. Some of the teams I formed are still there and I often joke with friends, that I sadly never got to enjoy any of the start-ups once the struggle period was over.

Today as I embark on a new journey, I can see some of my die-hard habits come to life. I am back to another chair and bench and another start-up...

Calling those old colleagues, clients or friends even after all these years doesn't deter me.I knocked the door of one of my oldest pals whose is now an entrepreneur and runs her own design shop- DeSha Creative. She maybe miles away from me, yet we didn't need a single telecon for her to execute what I had in mind. She reminded me that I was her 1st client 15 years ago even before she had taken on designing professionally!

Yes like any start-up there is excitement. But strangely I am not in a hurry and I don't fear failure.  And no the name is not inspired by the Bollywood flick 'ROCK ON'....

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

it's about ME....

Thursday-3:45pm- I am sitting at the waiting areas of one of the local government offices to get some approval and I grab out 15 minutes to start writing this piece... Yes that's what school holidays can do to your routine, if you are a work from home mum or just a stay at home mum... Today this seems like the quietest place for me....

But am I complaining? Inspite of all the confusion, I enjoy my time with the kids- the late night movies we watch together, the walks we take post dinner, carom and scrabble sessions, and a complete lack of routine....I guess our lives are so busy now, any kind of non- structure is welcome and I start to crave for it every 2 months....

Friday 8:30am- I continue my writing on a bus ride. I recollect a feature I worked on recently... It was to talk to a few 'super busy women' about what they do to pull out some 'ME' time... The answers were as interesting as the people profiled (from business owners to doctors to professionals)....

And then it got me thinking... what if someone asked me this question- firstly do I feel super busy? And do I earn for 'ME Time' or do I have a lot of it already?

Being a mum at home, yes I do get my little pockets of time when I am alone, but I am forever occupied thinking about the home, kids, menu, grocery, presence at school activities, field trips, home-work time, and of course I manage to squeeze out those few hours I spend on my desk doing my writing work... 

So would it be my time spent at my desk writing, the time I spent just by myself during the day at home, my badminton I play, my runs I go for alone, my random trips for a lunch/ coffee with myself, a movie on my own....Yes and No...

Yes I crave for a few of the above and make sure I do it frequently but NO there are weeks when I don't manage to do some of the above... and yet I sail through my days...
a typical morning in my balcony..
I think for me it's the small pockets in a single day that I take out for myself- my early morning coffee with the newspaper in my balcony, my time spent reading an interesting article or a blog during the day (again in my balcony), a meet up with my close buddies every evening for a quick chit chat where we talk a little beyond home and kids, my (alone) TV time every night.... The day I miss any of these, I feel something was amiss from my day....

A friend rightly put it- a ME time activity needs to be something you do just for yourself and it can't be purpose driven and for me each of the above calm me down and make me happy.

As I re-wind and think, during my work days setting aside some 'ME Time' was part of my schedule (be it some weekend activity, or a few hours I pulled out from work), but doing it now seems more challenging. I have so many hours of the day when I am alone, yet planning anything for myself needs a 'conceited effort'...wonder why...For now am happy with my small pleasures I pull out during the day...they keep me going....

Saturday, 26 September 2015

small targets..

As I started my run this morning, my target was to climb a certain bridge that I had never climbed before. I have always conveniently turned back as soon as I approached the bridge. Since the last few weekends, I have been setting small targets for myself- it may be running a 1km more than my last run, running my last km at my fastest possible pace, testing myself at elevations- guess these are small thrills of life and they keep me going!

I came across a blog written by an old friend (an ex-colleague who I used to chase for many stories during my PR days)- Lessons from Aikido and how inadequacy is all in the head. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it, maybe because I related to it.

This month has been special for me..I have after 4 years of hiatus got back to some sort of working (well if you think that looking after a home and your kids is not referred to as work). Like my friend said, going back to anything full-time and demanding was a bit unnerving, having left it few years ago. A few months back when some assignments started pouring in, the only aspect I looked at was, if it gave me the flexibility of hours and workplace. It just proved how things had changed in the last few years towards my approach to work....

When I started work on my new assignment it came with nervousness. The work wasn't even rocket science. Four years ago, this was my bread and butter. I had a lot of questions in my head till I got down to the actual- Will I have the same flare? Can I actually draft a press release with the same ease even now? Can I pull out a white paper on 'cloud computing' in a day? Why would a client want to work with a freelancer like me?

The work rolled in and sitting by myself at the desk at home (which of course is co-shared with my 8-year old), it all seemed strange. There were moments of loneliness and I wished I was in an office with people around me. With the few free hours I had in a day, guess I had to stop thinking and just get going with the job. The kids could see a change (the 8-year old). She saw tonnes of papers and little notes that I was scribbling around on her desk. She would often ask me, "did you manage to write that article? Can I read it?" Without fail she reads them all, but am sure it zips past her head.

In my free time I even compare my work to my role as a mother...I feel the work part is so much easier- if I make a mistake, there is always someone to correct it...but as a mother, I hope that I am doing the 'right' things for my girls and yet there is no one to correct me or assure me that I am on the right path!
Recently a friend asked me,"How easy is it to go back to work after a long break?" My answer to her was, "It depends on how much of it you want back." Atleast that was the choice I had to make... 

So where will my work take me? Do I have a clear path? Do I know how much I want to do? I don't know the answers yet to any of these. As work pours in, I squeeze out the hours. I still try hard not to be at my desk when the kids are around. I am not ready to let go of all the random things I absolutely love doing with them....only time will tell..

For now I am happy setting 'small' targets for myself every weekend, squeezing in a game of badminton some mornings, going for my run and gym routines at 5am and most importantly, being right there when the girls get back from school!

...and yes I managed to draft that press release with ease and climb the bridge I had my eyes on. And finding random notes like these (as in the picture) on my desk, brings a smile to my face!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

finding the right attitude...

It's nice when your day begins with an article in the paper that you can relate to. Of course with my early morning coffee in hand, this article- Taming the kiasu mother in me got me hooked on. I related to every bit of it and placed myself in the writer's shoe.

Am I really a 'kiasu' mother? Friends (who don't live in Singapore), the term 'kiasu' means- afraid of losing out, afraid of not getting the best, etc. I think we all (I mean mother's in particular), have a bit of the 'kiasu nature' in us. We always want the best for our kids, want them to succeed, be ahead in class, worry if they are not part of some group activity. I wonder if that's the right approach. Did our parents sweat so much about us? Or did we just go with the flow?

Lately I have had a similar situation at home and that's probably why this article got me hooked on.My 8-year old was a bit low the whole of last week. She was put into some challenging situations in her language class. She being the perfectionist, anything mediocre normally disturbs her. For the first time she felt, she was not excelling and was lagging behind compared to the rest of the class. Her work sheets were incomplete and she was nervous to go to her language class.

As a mother, I was concerned about her mood and her emotions. But least worried about how she fared at class. Maybe that had to do with my childhood- I never excelled in class and was never made to feel inferior because of that at home.

As a mum, the easiest thing for me to do was to front-end this on behalf of her. But then I wondered- for how long am I going to do this? A day needs to come when she needs to raise her hand in class and tell the teacher "I don't get this". For her to realise, that not being the best doesn't mean you fail. That even mediocre people can be successful. I would rather have her learn a lesson of being honest to yourself, be compassionate rather than get the best of grades. Surely this is easier said than done as we tend to measure our kids success with the grades they get rather than the intangible qualities we can equip them with.

This seemed to be more of a lesson for her to accept mediocrity and not always live in the glory of success. For her to understand that it was about giving anything 'her best' and not really being 'the best among all'. This needed a lot of patience from us. Along the way I may see her fail but somewhere I may be teaching her to accept failure. It was more about teaching her to have the right attitude rather than the right aptitude...

And then one day, she finally front-ended the problem herself- well firstly she doesn't call it a 'problem' anymore. She looks at it more like a challenge today and is finding her own ways to deal with it. She has accepted her shortcomings and wants to work on them. And proudly tells me, " Now I don't hesitate to raise my hand in class and say I don't understand."

Friday, 28 August 2015

a bit of here and there....

The other day my elder one got asked by her tennis coach, "Where are you from?". There was a 5-second pause from her end, and she answered, " I was born in Dubai, I live in Singapore now and for my summer breaks I go to my grandparents in India." There was no clear 'one' answer from her end.

In another incident, one of her dear friends from school was asked the same question. Though her passport is Australian, she prides on being Indian. It's common to see kids today with 'dual identities'. Born somewhere, spending their lives elsewhere...

When I was a kid, I spent most of my childhood moving places every 2-3 years (because of my dad's nature of work) within India. For a long time (and sometimes even now), I never had a clear cut answer when asked of my origin. Having spent half my life in Delhi (India's capital) and the other half in Bangalore (India's 'pub' capital- can never get myself to say Bengaluru), my answer was always a bit hazy. Though rightfully, I don't belong to either of these places! 

So that leaves me thinking- how do you decide where you belong to? Is it the place my family originates from or is it where I spent most of my life or is it where I have spent most of my married life? Strangely for me, my parents have never lived where I originate from, so it's even more confusing. 

For me home was where my parents lived! It changed every two years when I was growing up. It tossed between cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Coimbatore and finally now Bangalore (where they settled after retirement)...

Because of my 'North Indian' (if I may say so) influences, I probably celebrate Diwali and Rakhi more than Onam and Vishu. I speak more fluent Hindi than Malayalam (though I am ever thankful to my days in Dubai for helping me brush up my Malayalam skills). 

So I often wonder, what's it going to be like for my kids? Will the Hindi get substituted by Chinese? Thankfully our affection towards Bollywood helps in keeping the 'Hindi' alive in the house. Malayalam- well we try and then we give up! But every time there is an argument in the house (between the dad and the girls), you can hear the girls screaming, "I am half Malayali". My younger one told my husband one day, "Its really sad you don't have a 'Menon' in your name. It just sounds cooler!"

Ironically today is Onam (a major festival for Keralites, the state I belong to in India). We wished each other 'Happy Onam' this morning and the husband treated me to an awesome Lebanese 'Onam' lunch.. Who says I am confused??

Thursday, 20 August 2015

new-age back home!!!

I came across two blog pieces this week, that got me thinking in different directions..both related to new-age India! Both captured India's current mood but in very different ways.. An India I am far away from but yet yearn every year to go back to get my fill!!!

Bangalore, July 2015- As a typical (ex)-PR person, I spend a lot of time reading the newspaper (even today!).. I can't recollect when I read my last book but I still manage to spend over an hour daily reading the newspaper! It's a die-hard habit that I just can't let go....

One of my biggest agenda's when I travel back home, is to read up on the dailies everyday. Of course the choice now is way more. Every household has an average of 2-3 newspapers daily and strangely they all have different news! That's India!! The buzz and the action is way too much..Yes I long for it at times and I run away from it after I get my fill..

The buzz has only been changing over the years. If it was about capital markets and brick and mortar businesses a few years ago, today it's all about start-ups! And the sheer number of them around you, make it all seem so easy..

An interesting read I came across recently on the NDTV Blog- I'm 40 in a start-up world. What to do! Brilliantly captures India's mood today. You don't need to be a 'rich father's son' to start your own venture. You just need to be young and smart. A friend rightly said, " Silicon Valley is full of this". But for me (who has never been to Silicon Valley), this mood is exciting. It's hot today in India to run your own venture! It's fine to show off a plush home, fancy car, LV bag, an art collection...And probably my visits to the Silicon Valley of India every year make me sit up and notice- an ever changing India! Will I fit in somewhere there? Or am I still living in an India I left more than a decade ago? Only time will tell.....

Singapore, August 2015- Like every crazy fan of India's glamour world, I also followed the launch (online) of Twinkle Khanna's first book- Mrs Funnybones: She's Just Like You and a Lot Like Me, in Mumbai.

To rewind a bit, I started reading her columns when she started writing them more than a year ago. Like a typical PR guy, I confidently dismissed it as someone else's work. A Bollywood actress with this kind of wit and flair- seemed highly unlikely!! I even told friends, "wait and watch she will launch a book soon". But strangely she only got better with her columns and yes she launched a book!

Listed No 3 on Amazon India!
After ages, one could see the Indian media praising someone and writing good things (it's a rarity in India now to hear good things)... Her book launch only proved that Bollywood was her wrong calling and she had no qualms accepting it! Her answers in the rapid fire round proved she truly writes her stuff! Her writing represents the new-age Indian woman, who is confused, doesn't hesitate to ask a lot of questions and speaks her mind out even if it targets her mum, mother-in-law, husband or son!

Another NDTV blog that rightly captured her day and moment: Why Twinkle Khanna is just so damn likeable....

.......And yes I am a Twinkle fan-girl too and can't wait to get my hands on this book!!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

family bonds...

I am back at my pavilion after what seemed like a long summer break. By my pavilion I mean places that belong to me- my home, my running route, my gym, my daily chores.... We are back after a month of bonding, pure fun, a bit of chaos and a lot of action.

The Residency, Lucknow
The month seemed longer for all. The kids had their 'little' break away from the 'ever nagging' mum and 'usually stressed' out dad. It was three weeks of pure pamper and fun with family in India. We used that time to take a short couple's break where we managed to re-live some of our old habits (drink every night, choose a not very kid- friendly destination, not worry about meal times or follow any routine) and strangely when we were all reunited as a family no one complained!! 

Going home to India has meant different things to me over the years. When I was single a visit home was for home food and to just chill. When we were a couple, it was about taking a break from our routine, some shopping and meeting old friends. When kids happened, it was to create those bonds (like it is for most of us). 

Over the years the bonds have only deepened. The kids can't wait to get there and lucky us, we've been able to do this more than once a year...Both set of grandparents can't wait to have them over. If one indulges in cooking their favorite dishes, the other has all her energy built up to be out and about with them. Of course the time spent with their brother and rest of the family is priceless.

Kabaddi in full swing..
It maybe the sheer joy of playing badminton every evening  on their grandparents house lawn or picking the rules of kabbadi that they so diligently watched and played every night, my elder one being gifted her 1st 'Titan' watch . Of course her cool cousin and his friends told her, "eeeks, you live in Singapore- why would you buy a watch in India!!" But strangely she and the watch have been inseparable. The sheer excitement of living in the midst of chaos for a few weeks. I can surely say that I go back for that chaos and I enjoy every  moment  of that unpredictability... 

Each of these memories makes our come back tougher. The eeeriness of getting back to our routine, of living an almost perfect life, with nothing going wrong in the day takes a while too.

But somewhere in my heart, I also breath a sigh of relief- that I can do this often. I don't need to plan much and can make an impromptu trip. Thinking back on my holiday, I struggle to finish my 1st run after the month- long break!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

finding happiness...

As I touch down on home (Singapore for me), all I take back from my week-long holiday in Vietnam are some quiet and touching moments, spent in Hoi An and a few inspirations from people I came across in the last week-living imperfect lives but with no complaints.

Our first leg- Hoi An turned out to be a sheer surprise. A quaint little (mostly cycling and walking) town highly spirited and full of history set the right pace to start this holiday. We spent a whole day walking around the 'Old Town' discovering the alleys and making random pit stops at cafes, stores and historical sites.

During our 2- day stay apart from visiting the usual eateries and bars, our idea was to undertake some activity that would take us a bit into the back and beyond and show us the   'real' Vietnam. One such highly recommended tour (on Tripadvisor) was a cycling tour of the nearby islands/villages. Our internet search led us to a leading bicycle tour company- Heaven and Earth, and we chose a 6-hour (half day) tour.

The morning of our tour we had two smart, petite girls (in their early 20's), who came on their scooty's and picked us from the hotel. On reaching their office, the cycles were tested and we were briefed that it was going to be a hot and long day with different modes of transports- ferry, cycle, walk. Of course with the sole objective of getting us to see the rustic side up and close.

Quick and me!
Our guide for the day- Kute (pronounced cute but nicknamed 'quick'), was this little girl in her early 20's! She was extremely warm and cheerful. If our life intrigued her, her background, her work, her family life intrigued me. She had tonnes of questions along the day on Singapore, India, our kids, Adi (my husband-and his interest for photography).

And I had a lot of questions for her- how did she get to this job? Doesn't she get bored and tired doing this everyday? Her personal life- Her parents (who live in a remote village very far away from her), siblings, boyfriend! She was more than happy to answer every question and had a constant smile on her face through the day! I can surely say, if not for her this trip would not have been half as fun and memorable!
  From one village to another..

Every moment spent on that 6-hour tour was touching. Be it passing through the quaint villages, the vast rice paddy fields, entering locked family Buddhist temples and exploring them, seeing rice wine being made inside a little hut, or watching a 75- year old lady sew cane mats that she still sells for a livelihood. Belonging to India, poverty or villages are not new to me. But there was one stark difference here-  each person we met, looked happy and content...even a stranger or a little kid would smile at us while we cycled through their village and not fail to say 'CAM AN' (thanks in Vietnamese!)

Stacey performing 'Gangnam style'
Madam Phuong (or lovingly called 'Stacey')- our 60- year old bamboo boat trainer also needs a special mention. I wonder what excited her more- singing 'Gangnam style' along with us or teaching us how to ride that 'so tough to balance' bamboo boat. And am certain this feeling was not unique to us. She must be doing this with every tourist who lands up at her door step every day for that boat ride!

So what was so special about this holiday? I probably thought I would take back memories of places I visit, bars that I drank at or the awesome food I ate! But alas, it was something totally unexpected - Stacey's zest for life, Quick's attitude of just staying happy and the Vietnamese way of life- content and warmth! Hope I can live my daily life with even half that attitude. And of course, I plan to work on my cycling skills and make sure that I am up there for my next cycling holiday! 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

bonding for the future....

As I sit by myself at the departure lounge at Bangalore airport (my hometown in India), there is a sudden 'erriness' around me..I am flying alone after a long time and that surely feels strange. This solo trip is not one of my 'girl' holidays (I think I took the last and only one 5 years ago). This trip was to drop off my girls at their grand mum and aunt's place in India for a 2-week break.

I still recollect a dinner table talk a few months back at our home in Singapore on where to head for the summer holidays. The elder one (then 7 years old) promptly  replied "a drop- off India trip". I wasn't too surprised but somewhere was a bit reluctant. The elder one had done this in the past and totally enjoyed it but it was a first for my younger one (now 3 years old). As days passed, I realized she was serious about this holiday plan and I dare not alter it. Of course conversations with the younger one also started and she seemed more than ready. I probably forgot that my nephew and my elder girl did their first such vacation when they were 3-years old too!! So this should have been easy for me! 

Well as they say easier said than done! I have had my moments of weakness in the last few days, wondering how I will kill my time in the next two weeks without the girls, will they be fine without me, will my younger one sail it through. And also an unwanted realisation that I will miss them more than they will miss me!

I often recollect my childhood holidays and talk about it to my girls- visits to my grand mum's house in Kerala, spending weeks with my cousins, as we grew even our talks maturing, meeting each other's girlfriends/ boyfriends. Little did we realise that those few weeks of catch up would bond us for life! 

My sister and my first holiday abroad  (and that too just by ourselves) was a visit to my uncle in Muscat. She was 16 years old and me just 11 years then. Till today, that was probably my most 'special' holiday. And my parents were not on that holiday with us!! 

My inner circle of cousins (today though geographically very far from me) are my closest 'whatsapp' buddies. We chat almost every day, exchange pictures/videos and even cry out some of our day's anguish. Am sure those endless games of hide and seek, hours of chatting, table tennis on the dining table had some role to play in bringing us so close...

When I was leaving my mum's home for the airport, for a moment I thought why can't I just stay here and be a part of all this fun. What am I heading back home for? A few days by myself?? I am still not sure how fruitful that is going to be. But the giggles and laughters I heard as soon I closed the door, just made my decision easier. 

Somewhere I am (hopefully) opening windows for the girls to be more independent, form their own relationships and create a path for years of future bonding. Probably when they grow up and remember their childhood holidays, this maybe a special part of their memories. And with that thought, I head back home with a smile and not tears this time around...

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

an ode to worry.....

Just as I returned from my morning run and was unwinding in my balcony, the husband walked upto me and showed me the below article.. his words "read it anu! this is so U!".... and as I read it I could see myself in the writer's place.... friends who never knew me in my 20's, don't think can imagine that I was an anti-dote of what I am now!And most of my friends who knew me in my 20's are not part of my day-to-day life now...
My Paper 22/6/15

I hated following a routine (in my childhood), in my single life (almost 8 years) everyday I had a story to tell- maybe walk out of the apartment without the keys, land up at the airport with the wrong tickets, fracture my leg at an event, take off on bizarre trips like rafting, hiking (sometimes even alone) and always unplanned....

And today, I feel that I worry with every breathe- worry about (inconsequential) things in my home, worry about the kids, worry about the meals for the day, worry for my family back home, worry even while I have to go out for dinner with my husband (will I be back in time, am I doing the right thing leaving the kids home). I worry when the kids are away in India spending time with their grand parents, I worry when I am on holiday with my husband.

About to hit 40 soon, I wonder where this is going to take me. I wonder why I worry? Is it for what I have or for the fear of losing it? Or maybe unwanted work I poke my head into and tire myself out with. Or the mundane job lists I have created for myself and I believe I don't have a way out to not do it...but one thing is clear- this 'worry' is self-created.

Do we all change like this? Or is it just me? Today with the kids a bit grown up, I try (yes try) to chill a bit. I try to let go. But it's not easy. I forever wonder how tough it must have been for my mother to have a kid like me and more importantly not to try and change that side of me...I see a lot of myself in my younger girl- very impromptu, very casual, always happy. And I try hard to just let her be!

Of course two things have calmed me lately- my running and my writing. Both have taught me that its fine to keep that phone on silent (or not carry it when u run) and it's fine to shut your mind away from everything while writing an article. 

Would I ever find the 'old' me again? Can I spend a day not looking at my watch and my lists? Maybe that's a start I can make for myself. And not worry about the next meal and think about who would 'like' to eat what and then worry about getting it made!

Monday, 15 June 2015

break free or accept failure?

Tuesday: The song by 'Queen' goes well with my current state of mind..'break free'. It's more a mindset issue. I kind of feel I am living in a 'box'. I have clear entry and exit points- by that I mean clear 'timelines' to get my work for the day done- starting from my run early in the morning, waking up the kids, getting them ready for school, grocery shopping, organising dinner, playtime and then the dinner and bed time routine. Do 'we' really need a routine for ourselves? Do we need to always follow that to the 'T'?

Unknowingly, this got tested last week- My husband suggested we go out for dinner mid-week (just me and him). Of course that was a bit of a shocker- it meant, he needs to come back from work on time, we need to eat a quick bite and be home before kids get to bed..It took me a couple of hours to say 'yes'. But somewhere inside me, I knew I wanted to 'break free'. I wanted to see if this was going to change anything in my day-to-day life. And surprisingly the whole outing was smooth. The kids were in their routine. They got some 'me' time together, while we grabbed some of 'ours'. But not to miss, that I kept looking at the time during our dinner out.I am hoping I can get over that in the next few times.

A second instance- I decided to go watch a movie on a Sunday evening with my 8-year old (with school the next day). It took me a while to convince her, that breaking some of our 'own' created rules is feasible. For her more than the movie, the excitement of an outing on a Sunday evening (I think) was more liberating.

So where does this leave me? or the kids? I think over the years, I have started to feel a bit bound and rigid. And unknowingly, this rigidity started to form around the kids too. I could see that they would feel uncomfortable doing anything outside the set routine. In the long run, I don't want them to have 'fixed' ideas on what is 'right' and 'wrong' or more importantly I want them to be adaptable. This maybe one way to keep their thinking flexible.  I still haven't been able to 'break free' completely (as a mum) but for me little baby steps are a good start. Only time will tell, if my approach is right.

Thursday: After attending the year-end choir concert of my eight-year old, it took me back a few months when this whole thing started. At the start of the academic year, she had mentioned about her interest to audition for the choir at school. I had not taken it too seriously and had let it pass without intervening to help her. A few days later, my girl came home disappointed. She said we had missed the deadline to audition for it and she couldn't be a part of it. I think that was her first interface with 'rejection' or maybe 'failure'. The fault was mine and her's and we both learnt some lessons. For her, it was more of starting to be alert,  only she can chase her goal, and that nothing in life comes easily (and no longer on a platter). This was of course a very small instance but I guess at her age, that's where it starts.

As a mother for me, it was about making her realise that now she needs to fight some of her battles herself and never go with the intention to only 'succeed', for her to apprehend that failure is fine and what is more important is the baby step towards your goal that you have taken.  I think she always has a great example of her elder cousin brother who is a budding national-level sportsman and has to face defeat often. We have always seen him take it with a wide smile and only learning more from it.

For her luck, auditions opened up again and I think I succeeded somewhere! I wasn't even aware when she auditioned and finally got chosen. Of course I never made a big deal out of the success in the house and let it pass as just another 'initiative'. Or else had she failed, her pain would have been more.

Maybe our upbringing and the adversities we faced (atleast me) in our day-to-day lives taught me my lessons of life and made 'changes' easy for me to accept. I know situations are different with this generation but am hoping that somewhere my core values stay the same and my kids learn to accept failure the way I did it with a 'smile'.

Friday, 5 June 2015

a new mid-path

How often have you come across the word 'mid-life' crisis....well we used to laugh about it a few years ago and now it stands in front of most of us....yes I can see I am there!!! Strangely it means different things to different people- for some it's about not starting to look old, for some it's a realisation of kids growing up, for some it's about doing things that have been on their 'to do' list for years, for some it's time to give up work and for some (like me) it's time to get back to work!! 
I have been a 'muddled' head for the last 3 weeks... too many thoughts with no clarity. That's a bit rare with me as usually I am very clear and know exactly what I want (even my husband complains that I never ask for advice).

I had some (chance) meetings with some old acquaintances in the last few weeks. When I mean old they are from my work days. Of course they are where I left them but me, I have moved far ahead in life and totally away from my ambitions and (at one time) my only goals. 

Of course these meetings took me back a few years. I enjoyed some of those moments and honestly was a bit swayed as well. There were moments of weakness and some moments of happiness and contentment. The jumbled head was unsure which one felt right!

I think for us (ex- career) and now stay at home mum's, the 'right' time of when to go back is so fluid. And the bigger question being do we ever want to go back to that pace of life? Also, we may never be able to go back to what we really did, and maybe this is what they call 'mid-life crisis' for some of us. At this stage is probably when you have to look for that alternate path that brings you stimulation, happiness, contentment, and some money (to indulge in buying that dress or bag you have eyed!!).

Having done public relations for 15 years, even today I can feel it's 'in me'. Be it while reading a feature, watching an interview, I still view it from a PR person's angle. But is that a career I would go back to? Yes but surely not at the pace I lived it then.

Lots of discussions happened in the house- with the man, my ex-partner who stays in Dubai (who truly is my 'professional' soul-mate) and dear friends.  I have some clear answers, but am not sure of the path that will take me there. I (still) want to be there for my kids, I don't want to get too busy, I want that steady income (to buy that dress), I want to be able to write and I want to keep myself stimulated. Wow! that's not asking for much right??? My husband joked, " I will be happy if anyone will patiently hear out all your 'ifs and buts' and still say you have a job at hand"....

And then I came across this piece- an interview of Farhan Akhtar (me and am sure most of my Indian friends drool over him)- How Farhan Akhtar made plan A work
The feature answered a lot of questions for me. Yes be passionate about what you do, give it your best (be it your home or your work- giving both my best at the same time has always been a challenge for me!!), go with your gut, trust your friends (they know you really well) and hard work always pays!

A few days later and after an early morning run, my mind was all clear. I knew I had to find a (new) mid-path for myself. I was ready to say 'no' to anything that didn't give me a comfort, I did not fear rejection anymore. Maybe this is the start of a new path for me.
My writing, my running has shown me new ways to live and be happy. It has made me often stop and think about life, my wants, my happiness and learn to enjoy the moment. And the optimistic me feels that I think I just successfully crossed one of my mid-life crisis's and found a new path to some of my future dreams and aspirations, and the route to buy 'that' dress every month!