Day 143: The first

I held his hand gently and walked him to the bed. The bed was a clear two inches taller than needed. He let his weight fall on my right hand as he propped himself up on the bed. Sitting up with a slight droop, legs dangling over the edge of the bed, he casually tossed his flip flops aside. He giggles like a little boy at his giant man-sandals on my feet; I’d insisted on exchanging them before we went in. He undoes the first two buttons of his shirt, looking around in search of those familiar eyes.

Is she not going to come in?

In a bit. She’s taking care of a few things first.

*giggles* She’s scared, I know.

His eyes scan the corners of the room, registering the familiar and the new.

Are you scared?

No, no. What’s there to be scared of? I’ve done this already. Once!

He sounds confident, almost touching on arrogance. I pump up the pillows behind him, quietly suggesting he lie down on the bed. He looks behind him, pulls up another pillow on top of this one, and rests his back on the bed.

He looks surprised when she appeared out of nowhere, pulled a light blanket over him till his chest and disappeared. His fingers fumble on top of the blanket as his eyes scan around the room.

Don’t you have other things to do than this?

Haha! No, I’m going nowhere. I’m a little nervous though. They tell me it hurts, especially the first time. Is it true?

You won’t get anything in this life without some pain. We should learn to bear a little bit of pain, no? But it’s usually over before you know it.

I repeat his words in my head to reassure myself. At the foot of the bed, I see his legs dangling out, shaking to some mental tune. My thoughts drift to her and I wonder if I should go check on her for a bit. The blanket lady walks in, touches his arm gently, checks on him, smiles at his surprised face and ambles out, nonchalantly. He looks around, absent-mindedly putting his buttons all the way up to his neck.

I wonder if he was cold and tuck him in on the sides. He flinches and I back off, wondering if I’d overstepped my limits.

It’s a little crowded in here, no? I don’t know if I’m hot or cold. Can we take this blanket off? Oh! But it is cold; I should leave this on, I guess.

Do you want me to call someone?

No, but this pillow… My back hurts.

Why don’t we incline this bed a bit? Here, better?

Hmm, slightly.

Do you want to move up a little? Your feet are dangling far off the bed.

Involuntarily he sticks his hand out and I hold it, as he hoists himself higher up on the bed. His feet are still off the bed but I think he looks a little more comfortable now. The door creaks open and she walks in; he straightens a little under the sheets. She smiles sheepishly and he returns the look.

It’s getting all crowded in here now. I think you guys should leave. It’s almost time, anyway.

I stand rooted to my ground. I realize he’s trying to get us all out of the room under false pretense.

It’s not time yet. Will be around for a bit longer.

We turn around together as she waves and leaves, the door creaking behind her. His blanket is down to his waist and he looks a little flustered.

Think it’s time you removed that shirt. Why don’t you?

Oh! You sure?

I help him slide his shirt off from his back. I feel like he’s wearing a few sizes too large. Or had his body gone down a few shirt sizes!

He sits upright on the bed, his back no longer resting comfortably on the pillow. He holds his chest tight with his right hand, looking at me with pleading eyes. The blanket lady walks in, holds his other hand and soothes his nerves. I slowly rub his back as I ask him to relax. He sways forward and back like a little boy waiting for his turn to go up on stage.

I don’t think we should do it now. It’s a big mistake. Can we leave and come back another day?

Relax! You’ll be fine. Don’t think too much about it. Just let it happen.

No! I can’t sit down anymore. Can I stand, please?

Blanket lady and I hold him up as he steps down from the bed. He lets the blanket casually fall down on the ground. He takes a few deep breath and I sense his composure returning.

Is it time yet?

I look at his frail body, fragile skin wrapped around bones,wondering when age had caught up this soon. I walk with him slowly into the other room, holding his arm tight as he stabilizes his footing. The table has been set ready, waiting for him. He lets go of my hands, walks over confidently and sits on the table.

Eyy! No visitors in the operation theatre, he yells, as the nurses around giggle.

All the best, daddy! I give him a tight hug and run out.

I turn around as the door closes behind me. He lies down on the operating table, as the doctors place the anesthesia nozzle on his nose. The door slams shut.

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Day 142: 2017 Highlights – Amour Suisse

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of positivism in the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

Amour Suisse

The 20-days long, cross-continent trip, 10,000 kms from home, has to definitely feature in the highs for the year that went by. I missed all of H’s trip to India, and I left the country with a clarified mind, freshly loaded with theories of detachment from the therapist. And boy, did the trip clear my head out further!

  • Indian services suck. I’ve ranted about it a lot and I accept it. The side-effect of poor services is the delay one typically experiences because of these services. Combine that to traffic, and no Indian is ever on time. Well technically, when the Swiss were in India, every single Indian student was on time, waiting along with them through the delays.

So, having the issue of time delays rubbed in our faces every minute of every day was very irritating. On the second day, half the Indians were 30 minutes early to class and were sitting out on the ground because the Swiss professor wasn’t around to let us in. A week down, there were mostly only Indians in class and the Swiss slowly ambled in, 30 minutes past the hour. I hope they’ve gotten the message loud and clear that the Indian Stretchable Time is just another cliche that we’d like to erase in this generation.

  • The country is beautiful beyond comparison. As I stood by Lac Leman, staring up at the snow capped Swiss Alps behind, rising above Evians-des-bains in France, I felt humbled. Any sense of supremacy or ego would automatically disappear in a country like this. It is also a huge contrast from what I was used to see as grandeur in the United States of America. If you saw the Pacific Ocean in Cali, that’s all you got – miles and miles of water. If you went to stare at the Grand Canyon in awe, you got rocks and layers and layers of rock. It seems to be just here where you see the gigantic artic mountains, the lush green expanse of fields and the power of the lakes and the rivers, all mashed up in the same scene.

Chateau de Chillon

  • It seemed like there was more to plan for our trips around town, than for the actual project work itself. My work partner was missing for a major part of week 1 and that meant very little work could be done. And most of the work was done within the first 2 days of week 2. If you ask me to objectively evaluate the project, I would say that it was a huge drain on resources, especially if the University management was looking to get something productive from the trip.

Goofing around with Einstein on the bench, Bern

  • We spent an evening at Sarah’s country home, smack in the middle of the mountains, in the town of Bex. Between the town lights on the Alps, and the stars up in the sky, the whole night was surreal. I couldn’t pick between staring at the jeweled mountain sides, the speeding cars on the highway, the pitch black on the moutains, and the stars in the sky. My mind calmed to a state of numbness, where the breeze didn’t matter any more, the cold didn’t bite any more and the company was miles away.
  • Old Town Bern, with its cobbled stone pathways, stained glass painted church windows and red tile roofed buildings is exactly the quaint European city that my mind had conjured up. Walking down the city roads, music from a street side band drifting in the air and the sweet smell of roasted nuts, I was overjoyed at the places this life has taken me. The walk up the spire of the tallest church in the town was amazing and the view of the entire city from up there was memorable indeed.

  • Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Tête de choco, Choco chaud, Chocolate croissant, Choco noir, Choco au lait. Chocolate shaped in every form from football to Easter bunnies and the Eiffel tower. And amazing ones them all.

It’s raining chocolates, at the Cailler Chocolate Factory

  • The people, Indians and Swiss, were definitely a highlight of the trip. From PGS and his antiques, to flimsy-gal Ignatius, to dopey gal, and goey fan-girl, all those in the Indian team eventually came together as a fun group. Daily debrief sessions in V’s room, with prompt data collection, and rants about PGS over booze were all gentle reminders of the fun hostel times in RECT. Cliques formed and dissolved, issued crept up and subsided, but two weeks down, we all walked back with newfound respect for each other and great memories behind us.

The goofballs every night

For all their cultural unawareness and a sense of superiority, the Swiss team members were a bunch of genuinely ignorant folk. From being surprised at my listening to Classic Rock or speaking fluent English, to being a teeny bit impressed at my learning French, to being completely awestruck at the energy in the Indians to dance all night, they were definitely experiencing these for the first time and I respect them for that. Overall, they were quite the crazy lot.

Most of the gang, at Les Diablerets

A few unforgettables:

Pasta night at Bjerns

Made it to Bern

Nachde ne saare, nooooo :))

The view to die for. Peak walk at Les Diablerets

On Lac Leman, off to set foot in France

Even random Swiss mutts need a bum rub ❤

Loving photography.. All over again…

Day 141: 2017 Highs – PsychGoddess

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of positivism in the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

PsychGoddess

This lady has definitely been the best find of 2017. We spent a week together in the summer, at Bhor, and it’s been a jolly ride ever since. As someone with a Doctorate in Psychology, with a post-doctoral work on autism and I was already floored. Some people have an innate tendency to not look their age, to make you feel at ease at get-go and to have abundant clarity in life. They also bring in the fun and the humor into any group, bonding with all evenly. The PsychGoddes had them all.

  • I understand and respect her clarity on the societal arrangement called marriage. Two people that like one another, can stand each other and respect each other, do not need a marital contract to spend their lives together. Marriage is not the beginning of the glorified happily-ever-after and the sooner we accept it, the less people will be stuck in this rut.
  • The way she’s raising her son is inspirational and is something I’m going to refer back to for a long time. Open communication, even with a ten year old, is an absolute must. It should start at that age for them to realize that their mother is in their corner for life. I still remember stories of their little arguments, writing reasons for being mad at each other I’m crumpled chit and throwing into the other’s room. Communication,  at its best!
  • Psych Goddess, the adopted mommy. My love for the dame grew millions when I heard her story of how she adopted her son. And then it grew a little more when I heard the story about how she told the little one about it. I’ve always felt strongly about adoption; there are too many abandoned souls looking for love and a life, too many to make any further procreation seem unjustified. But I’ve always wondered about the acceptance from the child’s end, would they ever think that we made a mistake by adopting them. The PsychGoddess made me realize a step to the answer: Open communication.
  • For someone like me that’s easily impressed, she’s taught me to wear the Black Hat every once in a while. Any awe or pleasure that one typically feels immediately after an event, a training or a lecture or a show, is purely because of the feel-good factor arising from the novelty of the experience. While it is a good thing to be happy about any new experience, and to enjoy it with an open mind, the stable mind will be grounded in reality. It will see through the tricks and the showmanship and will be able to spot the plot holes in the event. That’s a great power to have, something I’m going to consciously try this year.
  • The learning never ends and she’s taught me that from the first day we met. The quality of her reading, her academic proficiency and her quest for learning have all been impressive. Something to look up to and emulate.

The maanga-curry cookscapade, the rum and breezer  circles, her theatre games, the cuddle sessions with Scotch and the ramblings about everything under the sun will hold a special place in my heart. She’s introduced me to some brilliant people and some exciting new areas of learning and I’m looking forward to some more. She’s been an ardent reader of my rambles and the best PR in the world. What more can a girl want! Much love, PsychGoddess! 

Day 140: 2017 Highs – Bhored

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of positivism in the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

Bhor-ed

The summer spent in a little town, south of Pune, definitely tops the list of highlights for the year.

The internship started at the end of Year 1 in the new career, at a point when the University and the teachers had left a strong sense of doubt in my mind. While the subjects were novel and insightful, a welcome change from the days of Engineering, the methods of teaching, the mindset of the teachers, and the management, in general, where a hard reality-check of an industry overflowing with archaic ideologies and bureaucracy. I was left questioning their ancient ways, and the effect that they were having on the minds of the next generation. The pain compounded when the realization sunk in that this was a department training teachers, tasked with equipping the citizen for tomorrow.

It was with that broken morale that I joined the group of educationists in Bhor, and the group saved me from the dark dungeons of my own mind. I realized that while I was stuck in a place that was still shuffling in the industrial era of education, there were agencies out there that had moved on to the modern ages. The group made me realize that all it takes is a few like-minded souls to get together in order to bring a change in any area that one is passionate about. The gang reinstated in my mind the belief that all one needs in life is hope to keep surviving. The team also reaffirmed the idea in my head that it was very easy to join a certain school of thought, make its registers our own, but that it took an open mind to walk the middle path and understand both points of view.

  • The whole experience reinstated my respect for simplified living. One does not really need three different sizes of coffee pots or five dupattas in varying shades of the same black. The clarity that comes with losing clutter is very powerful and the month at Bhor helped me realize that.
edf

Some chai and samosas at the school

  • The weekly Tuesday markets were absolute fun. We were the outsiders that got stared at every time we went out of the house. And yet, I did not feel the awkwardness that typically comes with walking out in public in the cities.
  • The sunrise and the sunset were absolutely out of this world. We did not have to drive 100 kms away from the city, hike up 2 hours and fight off a crowd for the best views. I looked out the window at day break and there it was, the beaming ball of fire. Equally easy was the sunset. And the million stars that popped out when you looked up at the night sky are hard to come by even 100 kms away from the city.
  • The planning that goes into running a household is beyond compare. From picking up groceries on a Tuesday for the whole week ahead, to planning dinner-breakfast-lunch for the next day, everything was done systematically. This completely removed the last minute frantic run that one normally does before a meal. This experience helped me tremendously in planning for Keto. Yay!
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And, we made amazing an Chocolate Cake!

  • Fooood! The mallu mango curry, the great chicken curry, the super-thick lassi/malai, the chocolate cake, the banana bread, the yellow pumpkin pooris, the overly simple yet tasty sabudana poha. There was just too much of too yummy food to keep us going.
  • At the end of the day, the highlight of the whole trip was the quality of the conversations. Whether we were arguing about something or agreeing to the same perspective, whether we were discussing the men in our lives, there was a high level of involvement and zeal in the conversation and immense respect for the parties in the discussion.

 

They were very different people, with varied interests and life experiences. They were very successful in their lives; Doctorates, educationists and designers. Some walked the straight-out leftist path, while others trod a little left of center. Some wanted technology to play a larger role in education while others didn’t care too much. Nonetheless, they loved talking education, especially with each other; they loved goofing around while getting serious work done; they had an open mind to try varied things, and were learners for life.

Here’s to more such great company in the years to come!

dav

Day 139: 2017 Highs – EduMan

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of hopes for the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

EduMan

I knew the man had material to impress way back in 2010-2011 itself, when I had reached out to him for TFI. There was something about him, the energy and the passion that came with his discussions, that was admirable at the least. I should put it out there that it must be those discussions with him while firming up the application for TFI that established my interest in the education sector deeply. So, if it works out, he is on my Vote of Thanks for sure. Even it spirals down, I’m sure he will get a positive mention.

EduMan carries a certain calmness and simplicity about him that is inspiring. For someone like me that is always trying to make her words keep up with her thoughts, I believe that his personality is one to emulate. Over the period of the internship, I saw him as a great leader, a visionary thinker, an avid reader, an inspirational academic, and a great companion.

  • He has taught me to weave the professional and the personal seamlessly so that they are not absolutely discrete and yet do not overstep their roles. This is something I’m still struggling to master in my own life. The man has a smooth way of treading into the professional aspects amidst a personal interaction, and still keeping the conversation contextual.
  • He has also made me extremely conscious about acknowledging and employing skills that people have. After that month with him, I realized how little I share praise for a person’s good deeds. EduMan does not hesitate to endorse quality work or inputs as he sees it, and I think in today’s cynical world, we need more such minds. We need more people celebrating more, even the littlest, successes. With enough positivism, the world might just become a happy place after all.
  • The final learning from my watching EduMan work more closely was how insufficient my network truly was. He was a collector, of people. He had surrounded himself with people that could motivate, teach and help him so that he was protected from any situation that life might throw his way.

He is the first to officially pay me for my editing duties – all based on a silly college editorial team that we were a part of ten years back. He brought to me people and experiences that have enriched my life so far. He has taught me to smile and to goof through it all.

I’m excited for the year ahead and the work that will come our way.

IMG-20170422-WA0028

Day 137: V and V

V1

He definitely won brownie points for being on time and for picking a decent place, well suited for the occasion. But, as soon as I saw him and exchanged that formal handshake, I knew that this was not going to be. This arranged setting of meeting prospective matches has been going on for a while now. So, if there were a resume for life, I could add ‘Filtering Prospects’ as an added skill. I saw this one and I knew it was not going to be; two hours of talking down, I was more than convinced.

Over the years, my filters, the items in “the checklist”, have all been refined and made to suit the practical needs of the scene. I no longer want a guy who’s more or less my age, has an interest in the languages and photography, and loves dogs, cultures, food and traveling as much as I do. I no longer want him to be a writer, and world-savvy, and a biker-rider. I no longer expect a man to be spontaneous enough to move to a new city, or better yet a country, and start life afresh. But there are a few things that are still required. Please…

  • Have an interest that keeps you going. There is a world outside of just work and home; it matters.
  • Live to eat, or Eat to live. Enjoy it nonetheless.
  • Throw yourself outside your comfort zone every once in a while. The more you rest in one safe spot, the closer you are to becoming a tree.
  • Ooze out with passion. Whether you’re laughing, crying or fighting like lunatics, let it all overflow with passion. Do it like you mean it.
  • Be a gentleman. Respect. In today’s day and age, a man that holds the door open not because the woman is incapable of doing it herself, but because she deserves that amount of respect, is the true gentleman.
  • Leave the shores of your country at least once. It is a great test of one’s personality, to be in a country that is not yours, amidst a culture that is not yours. It takes some nerves to keep an open heart and let yourself be drowned in the new. And you learn to take care of yourself.

I have met some wonderful men in the past and it has not worked out for whatever the reason may be. But, I’d like to think that there were all the right men for someone else, and not me. That gives me the hope that there is a right one for me out there somewhere.

ViToo

The universe plays funny jokes on you and I was purview to its latest recently. I met two people, poles apart, and with the same name. ViToo, of course, has the benefit of time since I’ve known him for a few years now. I got introduced to him at TCS, when we were working on the same project, but from different locations. Different reasons bring people together, in this case it was our shared roots in CBE. Now that I was back in home base, we decided to meet up and take the mere online conversations off.

It did not, for once, feel like I was meeting someone for the first time in hard flesh. The conversations kicked off as if they were merely in limbo for a few years. There was a certain comfort factor with the person and the conversations that was welcome. Very soon we were talking about family and long-term plans, successes and failures, like it was but the next logical information trivia to share. It was clear that I would be in touch with this gentleman for a while to come.

V1 vs. ViToo

The difference between the two new people that I met within the span of a week was all too blaring. Certain people have that presence and climate around them that automatically brings out your best. Certain people have the opposite effect as well, where your guards are automatically up. This doesn’t mean that I was guards up during my meet with V1. But, the social setting or the expectation from the meeting invariably brought out a different me from what I truly was.

It makes me wonder if the arranged marriage set ups are flawed by definition, because they bring out the fake, made-up version of people. In this case, it’s highly likely that the real-me would have scared V1 all the way out (the mellow me was apparently ‘aggressive’ for the gentleman). But I wonder if I would have been a different, more-charming me, had I not gone to these meetings with the pressure of evaluation and selection. If I knew that the other person wasn’t checking off items on his mental check-list, would I have been forgiving of his follies?

This doesn’t discount the fact that us human beings are designed to judge and evaluate. So, I am confident that the meeting with ViToo also had its fair share of judgement and checking off of mental checklists. What was different was how these assessments did not matter majorly. When you have a wavelength match with another, I guess it doesn’t matter how you evaluate the other or vice versa, because you’re probably checking off similar items.

People’s behaviors and interactions are clearly becoming a topic of interest. A few more years of meeting prospects and I should probably pick a Doctoral topic from all this learning. Time will tell!

Scotch: Kids these days put too much time into this marriage thing. Life is a journey and if you find someone that makes the trip more fun, hold on to them.

Day 136: Mango mandi

Only 50 kilos a? That’s a little too less, no? How much do you have? Some 80 at least? Yeah! Then 50 is too less. I mean, nothing wrong there. 50 for 5.5 is good. Only from our side, we’re not all that perfect. What to do! At least a 70 would have been manageable.

But how can you decide just by looking at a picture and reading the specs? Don’t you have to see with your eyes and decide based on things that matter?

It’s the same thing as online shopping, no? You buy a product on Amazon. Do you touch and feel? So, you look at the product and that’s how you decide; based on their pictures and yours. And compatibility.

But… Are we buying mangoes here?

Scotch: Relationships are after all like buying mangoes, S. You pick one based on what you think is the best. And then you’re committed to it all the way until it ends up in your stomach. A juicy one, a ripe one, a wormy one – you pay for everything that you picked. No?