Zen state

A few weeks ago, Abbas was acting a bit strange. It appeared to me as if he wanted to say something but was trying hard not to. I didn’t pay much attention to his antics as I know him so well. He just cannot keep a secret and whatever it was that he was hiding would blurt itself out of his system sooner or later. At night, when we were in bed, he told me that one of my uncles had sent a video to him. And that he didn’t want to show it to me as it would make me emotional. Now that he let the cat out of the bag, I was all the more curious to see the video. Reluctantly he showed it to me.

Apparently it was Brother’s Day that day and Sindhu (my sis) had prepared a video for my Sharath (my bro). It was a beautiful video with a heartwarming song in the background. She had chosen images right from childhood to present day. It was so obvious to me that many of the childhood photos had me by their side too but they were cropped to exclude me. I watched the video and did not flinch. I rather appreciated their strong sibling bond and was genuinely happy for them. More than Abbas, I was surprised by my own reaction. In the past, there have been similar instances where it affected me emotionally and felt like a punch in my gut. But this time around, I just admired the thought and love behind that video from a sister to her beloved brother. That’s it.

Recently my Ma (my MIL) sent a a few pictures of when my parents had visited us in Kolkata. The one and only time that it was. It was a very emotional day as that was the only time that I had seen my father cry every in my life. For a daughter, who always did everything in her capacity to please her dad, this was a huge blow to be the reason behind those tears. Looking at those pictures has always been like re-opening a wound that had not even fully healed. But this time, I saw them after ages but I actually laughed looking at myself. In two of the pictures, I had my full focus on eating! I had never noticed it before because all I felt was pain. This time though, it was different. Have the wounds healed completely?

Every year, when the messages for Father’s Day and Mother’s Day go around, it used to affect me. Today when I see the posts by all my friends and acquaintances dedicated to their dads, I did not feel that pain of missing out. I really don’t know what has changed. I’m not even sure if this is a good sign or bad, I’ve slowly and steadily gotten over it. I dunno if I have any hope left of reconciling with my family ever. And it’s surprising that it doesn’t hurt to say this. Having said all that, I still remember them each and every day. Not a day passes without thinking about them. But I only recollect the pleasant and beautiful memories of my childhood and they are frozen in time. I’m happy and content to live the rest of my life with that treasure chest in my heart. Probably for the same reason, I don’t feel any urge to reach out to them and get back in touch any more. I wish them all happiness and health forever and always!

PS: This is how I have been feeling for the past year or so. I don’t know if I’ll chew my own words or have a change of mind but I felt I must document this state of mind while it lasts!

A dozen years!

Dear Mantam,

The last one year seems to have gone in a blur. (I won’t say the same about the remaining years). You both have shot up so tall as if in a competition to catch up with your parents’ heights. You secretly even wish to grow much taller than Baba and I. You are both growing through physical transformation as you near puberty. I feel very anxious when I think of all the pain you will have to endure during your menstrual cycles. As much as I am vocal about how I hate periods, I would voluntarily take on all the pains from you in a beat, if I could. But alas! It is yours to endure and I am sure Baba will go through hell to see his daughters suffer.

Enough of period talk, let me move over to how you both have taken up many domestic chores. (Yes yes, I admit to making you do them but hey, these are survival skills and I’m only empowering you to be self-sufficient). Your interest in cooking makes me extremely happy and I share with you too many tips and tricks in the kitchen. I always start or finish with my trademark dialogue ‘Nobody taught me this. I learnt it the hard way. But I’m telling you so that you don’t learnt it by making mistakes’. I do silently chuckle thinking of how I have become my mother. She also had her own set of trademark sentences which I recall every now and then. It warms my heart to think that you both will someday be on your own, away from our shelter and you will also recall some of these moments. I hope that you will remember them fondly and feel a warm sense of comfort. I dunno why I’m fighting an eager tear that’s trying to escape my eye as I type this. I do put up a brave face whenever we think about being empty nesters. But it sure is going to be extremely difficult as we are such a close-knit family that Baba and I never even think of taking vacations without you two.

We love spending time with you both and I like to think that you reciprocate the same feelings. Ever since COVID-19 took over our normal lives, I have been forever grateful that I have the best quaranteam that I could have ever asked for. These three months have been a dream. We sure were anxious with all that was going on in the world (still is) but I think we made the most of the situation. You both have always been adaptive to changing circumstances. And this was no different. Whatever we missed doing, you both made it happen magically within the confines of our home, with whatever was available on hand. You missed going to Timezone to play arcade games. So, you spent a whole day creating an Arcade evening with games that you made from scratch and I just can’t begin to describe how mind-blown we were. We missed going for movies, you created a movie night experience right in our lounge – complete with handmade tickets, popcorn, soft drinks, pizza and even numbered seats. Oh, I forgot to mention about the spiders you served during movie interval. We missed venturing out, so you both came up with the idea of a backyard picnic. We prepared picnic friendly food, camped in our backyard and spent a beautiful day out without stepping away from home. Your passion for DIY and the zeal to have fun come-what-may makes my heart swell with pride. I sincerely hope you will keep it up all through your lives.

I always tell you that I don’t care how much you score in tests but I do care the most if you are a good human being or not. When one of your classmates was left alone by her close friends, you consciously involved her in your group and played with her. When she patched up with her friends and flocked back to her original group, you were just happy for her and did not have an ounce of hard feelings. When one of your friends lost a tooth and you came to know that her parents didn’t leave tooth fairy money under her pillow, you left your gold coin for her in the classroom so that she doesn’t feel disappointed. For one of your friend’s birthday, you came up with a plan with your group of friends to each get a brownie slice from the school canteen and join it together as a makeshift cake to celebrate. You both reminded everyone to get a dollar each but also took extra money from your own pocket just in case some of the friends couldn’t get or forgot to get. You always make such amazing handmade cards and gifts for your friends and loved ones that it melts our heart. Hope you continue to touch many lives and make people feel special and loved.

You both stepped forward to contest in the election for school leader this year. I was very happy that you did irrespective of the results. Mannu, you came quite close to winning but didn’t. Baba and I were relieved as we always live with guilt if one of succeeds in something while the other doesn’t. Although you both have an open mind and always wish your twin the very best, we are worried sick when the balance is skewed! But later in the year, you both got chosen as the SRC of your respective classes. We could express our joy with abandon! You are going to be in high school next year and we don’t know for sure if you both are going to be in the same school or different. We hope that you have a wonderful final year of primary schooling and make beautiful memories that you will cherish. This is also the final year where you are getting picked up and dropped off to school, staying at after school care. Next year is going to be a whole new experience for you and us. We will have to give you a phone as you will start commuting on your own and also will be teenagers! (I’m trying hard to get rid of my own phone addiction so that I can preach to you without feeling guilty myself)

I wanted to write to each of you individually about the unique personalities that you are becoming. This letter has already gotten too long. I will write a separate post soon.

In conclusion, Baba and I must have done something right to be blessed with such gems of daughters. We love you both more than we ever imagined we could. (I might love Laddoo slightly more than you two, but that’s a debate for another day 😀 ) Thank you for being you and we hope you grow up with your hearts on your sleeves, always choose kindness, embrace every opportunity that life throws at you and never shy away from standing up for what is right!

Much love,

Mumma

Curtsy

And it is over! The final day of blogathon today. Sticking to the norm, I’m again beginning to write this post, while competing against the clock.

It was not easy, but to have so many amazing bloggers along made it possible. When you think you just can’t do it, looking at the reader flooded with posts from other bloggers keeps you going. I’m grateful to everyone who joined. Much love and gratitude to you all! Special thanks to RS for initiating this event, her nudge made it possible.

I did publish a couple of photo posts but tried to write as much as I could. Some days I just made things up as I went. Like the poem yesterday!! When I read it to the girls this morning, they said they are the ones to be blamed as they are not being funny enough to give me blog-worthy content. Lol

I still have a lot of things to write about ( which are coming to my mind today). I was too lazy on most days. I felt that my posts were written for the sake of writing and ticking a box. I wish there was more substance to my posts.

On the other hand, I would not have written a single post if I was fixated on posting quality content.

I can’t promise about posting regularly, but I really want to. To all the blogathon participants, shall we do at least one post every month to keep the spirit alive? Let’s post on, say 15th of our month! Are you game?

Oh Blogathon! Have mercy!!

Clock is ticking

The cuckoo inside is waiting

Table fan head is oscillating

I’m sweating

Not a single idea to post is my mind getting

With every passing second I’m fretting

Goal to do the blogathon every year, why am I setting

If I don’t take it up, I will be the one regretting

It finally will end tomorrow and we will all be celebrating!!

Phew!!

6 minutes to go and it had to come to this, bringing the crappy poet inside me out to write today’s post!!!

Standstill

I was rushing to the train station this evening to catch my train and just when I was at the gates where I had to tap on, my phone went blank for a few seconds. I felt as though my life has come to a standstill. I blanked out for a moment and wondered what to do next. I wasn’t carrying my Opal card (travel card used to avail public transport) today and had used my phone to tap and pay using Apple Pay during the morning journey to work. I told myself that I could use my debit card to get on the train. Then I wondered how I would communicate with Abbas. He always messages me around the time I catch train to check if I got it or I was running late. On Wednesdays, he takes the girls for swimming classes. So depending on my arrival time, he’ll either drop the girls home and come to pick me up or directly come to the station from the pool. If he won’t get my reply, he’ll be worried. How do I let him know? All these thoughts crossed my mind in those few seconds. Then luckily, phone display came right back on, much to my relief. But it made me think how much my life depends on my phone. How phones have replaced so many things that we used before it took over our lives. Listing all the things that I use my phone for:

  • Camera firstly! And you would find my gallery overflowing with pictures and videos of food more than people
  • Social media apps
  • Video editor
  • Mantam’s school app where I get newsletters and notifications of school events etc
  • Google maps (I am totally useless when it comes to directions or road sense. Without maps, I can’t move from one place to another)
  • Trip view lite (This is local public transport app) to check train or bus timings while on the move
  • Banking apps for obvious reasons
  • Apple pay – I find it so convenient
  • Outlook – with work email configured to catch up during commute
  • Kindle reader – although I don’t use it much and still tend to lean towards paper book, but I did use this once when I purchased an ebook.
  • Service NSW app – we recently got this new feature to have a digital driver license on this app, which eliminates the need to carry a physical license
  • Video streaming apps like Netflix and Prime
  • Splitwise – very handy when you split costs during a trip or say dinner or any other ongoing expense with a friend or group of people.
  • Dictionary
  • Udemy – use this to do online trainings to improve my skills
  • Uber – to book cabs / food
  • Peptalkher – this app is great to record simple and quick everyday wins or achievements. It even sends you inspiring quotes and reminders. Do check it out if you haven’t already
  • Garmin – linked to my vivofit tracker
  • Flexischool app – this is to order food from the school canteen. We order Friday lunch for the twins as per their liking.
  • Scan & go – this is Woolworths supermarket app which can be used in select stores, where you can walk into a store, pick items, scan them on your phone as you go and leave the store at the end by scanning a QR code at the scan&go kiosk. No standing in queues for billing required
  • Authenticator – used for 2 factor authentication
  • Trello – such a handy tool to keep myself organised both at work and home

That’s pretty much about it! Please tell me which are your favourite apps ?

Brainwash

I received a message yesterday on my FB messenger from one of Abbas’s close friends, S (who is Hindu, you’ll know why I had to mention this as you read further) . To give a little bit of background about S, he has been friends with Abbas from childhood. They grew up in the same housing colony and have known each other since forever. S worked on a cruise when I had married Abbas. Every time he came on vacation, he would come and shout Abbas’s name and they would disappear for hours together. Both of them have been there for each other through thick and thin. S eventually got married and left his cruise job and settled in Kolkata. After we left Kolkata for good, during every visit Abbas would meet S. S and his wife even gave gold earrings to my daughters. S and his wife have been our FB friends and we like / comment on one another’s posts every now and then.

Cut to yesterday, the message I received from S was very abusive. He used extremely foul language and accused me of betraying my dad for another man. He blamed me of marrying a Muslim guy. (This is the most toned down version but the message was too dirty to reiterate) At the same time, Abbas received a message too from him. That message accused him again of converting a Hindu girl and what not! Abbas told me to ignore the message as he suspected that S’s account may have been hacked. I had a feeling that his account was not hacked because the messages were not generic. It could be a possibility that someone must be playing a prank after getting access to his account (although this would be a prank that crossed the boundaries of decency).

Abbas decided to call S to clarify things and to caution him about his account being potentially hacked. The moment S picked the call, he hurled swear words at Abbas and hung up. Abbas called twice again and the same thing repeated. Abbas messaged his wife and she initially tried to avoid normal conversation. When Abbas told about what had happened, she told him ‘All I can say is that he has lost his mind. I can’t say any more. Please never tell him that I told you this or that you ever messaged me.’

Abbas was furious when reality struck him that it was his friend of many years who had sent those messages intentionally. It seemed to us as if he had suddenly been brainwashed by extremist religious ideology and he appears to have lost sensibility to differentiate between right and wrong. It is hard to believe that a person like S could fall into this trap. Abbas was particularly upset that he sent such a filthy message to me. We just hope that he comes out of that bad influence which is eclipsing his common sense and wish him well! 😦

Missing office

It’s been four days that I’m home and today I have been feeling happy that I can go back to office tomorrow. I know that by Wednesday again I’ll start counting days till the weekend. But as of now, I can’t wait to go back.

These are the thing I miss:

  • Routine – On weekdays, everything goes on smoothly like a well oiled machine. Food gets cooked, packed and even eaten at a fixed time. Sleeping and waking up happens at the right time. Life seems to have a set rhythm.
  • Workout – When I’m working, I somehow manage to squeeze in time for yoga. But when at home, I keep putting is off till later and it never gets done.
  • Structure – I like the fact that I have designated slots to do things when I’m working which I miss when I’m working from home too. The line between what’s done for work and home is so blur that I end up logged in for more hours than I would have from office. At the end of the day, I feel guilty that I was neither productive enough to fulfil my work duties nor the home ones
  • Colleagues – It’s true that we spend more time with our colleagues than with our family members. I’m fortunate enough to work at a place where the people I work with are so amazing. (There must some magic mantra used for recruitment, for sure)
  • Getting out of the house – As much as I love staying home on the weekends and not stepping out of my home, I can’t wait to do so after 4 days of enjoying this bliss. I wanna go out only to crave again to get the opportunity to stay home 😀

I don’t know if I make sense because I think I have contradicted myself many times in this post 😀 I’m trying hard to come up with sensible posts but it’s the 27th day today and my brain is on a non-cooperative movement.

Is it just me or are you also feeling that this blogathon is dragging like chewing gum?

Long weekend

Usually we make plans for long weekend well ahead of time. This time we didn’t have much and planned to take it easy and go with the flow. But Mannu caught a stomach bug and hasn’t been fully well since Friday night. We just spent the last two days at home, simply lazing around without any agenda. While we are hoping for Mannu to get back to normal, it has been a relaxing weekend with no agenda.

This morning, Mannu came to our bed in the morning and we asked Tammu to join too. It was after ages that all four of us snuggled on the bed together lazily. We then watched some of the twins’ old videos of their childhood and laughed in unison. It was so much fun and was a beautiful start to another carefree day. We had some meaningful conversations with the girls about India’s Republic Day and why we celebrate it. They, in turn, told us many things about Australia’s history that they learnt at school.

We watched three movies already while I finished a crochet project (I can’t sit and just watch TV. I have to do something in parallel 😃) Because Mannu’s tummy is upset, we have been eating very light too (Mannu and I are the every-hungry and always-on-food-prowl creatures of this house.) Not much cooking needed to be done! To add to it, it’s extremely hot here at the moment and standing in the kitchen seems very repulsive. Yes, I can’t believe I said that!!

Tomorrow is a holiday here too and the school re-opens from Wednesday onwards. It will be back to normal programming soon and we all seem to be keen to get back to routine. (I know I am)

This post seems like a forced writeup but scattered thoughts but that’s reflective of current state of mind too!

Leaving you all wishing Happy Republic Day to all the Indian readers and Happy Australia Day to the fellow Australians!!

PS: Thanks to everyone for sending your love and thoughts for Mannu. She is feeling much better today ♥️

Sleepless night

Last night Mannu woke us up in the middle of the night saying her tummy is hurting. My first instinct was that she had had her first period perhaps. This worry has been looming over me ever since I heard about one of their friends who recently entered puberty. Although they both know all about it, it gives me tremors to think about my girls going through that pain!

Sorry for digressing! It turned out her stomach was aching and we couldn’t figure out what could have caused it. We had all had the same food throughout the day and we were doing ok. She lied down with us but was very uncomfortable. She seemed to be in so much pain and kept moaning. She kept going to the bathroom every now and then. We gave her kids paracetamol (didn’t know what else to do) and after some time she went to her own bed to sleep. My ears were alert trying to catch any sound of discomfort coming from the girls’ bedroom. I must have drifted off to sleep at some point.

All of a sudden, I heard quick thuds in the form of rushed footsteps and I woke up startled. Mannu was in the bathroom puking. I held her as she was feeling so weak but I was relieved that it would make her feel better. She has been so quiet throughout the day. We took her to the doctor today and she has been prescribed some meds. Hope she will get back to normal pretty soon!

Gender Pay Gap

This morning I read an article quoting Smriti Mandhana, who is the Indian Womens Cricket Team Captain at the moment. She said that it is ‘unfair’ for the women’s team to ask for equal pay because the men’s cricket team brings a lion’s share of revenue. I have heard people saying this in passing and it always gets on my nerves. If a sportsperson makes such a statement, what hope do we have from onlookers! The comments from people on the article hailing how she is not only a good cricketer but also very sensible made my gut wrench!!

 

Last year, we had a guest speaker at one of our women’s forum events. She is a professional AFL player, who is also working in the corporate world and performing equally well in both the places. She is now on the AFL board and is working towards reducing the gender pay gap. She mentioned how less women athletes get paid compared to their male counterparts. Not only that, the facilities and conditions which women get is nowhere in comparison to men. The salaries they get is hardly sufficient to sustain their lives and often they are forced to work another job to survive financially. She did mention that she was fortunate to be working in an organisation that supports her sporting career and allows her the flexibility to go part-time during tournaments. But not every sports-woman is lucky in that aspect. When women are forced to take up other jobs, make time to train, they are already at a disadvantage from men. Add to it the pressure to perform because their game is not taken as seriously as male sports. Now, that is what I call unfair.

If I had a daughter and a son and if both were interested to pursue sports, am I to tell my daughter that even if both of them put in same amount of effort, it would be unfair of her to ask for equal pay just because her brother’s game brings more revenue? Just imagine both of them dedicating their lives to sports, one retires with truckloads of money (not only with the extravagant salary, but also advertisements, endorsements etc) and the other perhaps would retire from the sport only to take up another job to support the rest of their life. How can a sane person say that this is fair? As a parent, I would probably discourage my daughter from getting into the sports in the first place. How will we get best players if the career provides no sense of security?

 

The gender pay gap is also seen in other industries. Surprisingly, even the female dominated industry like healthcare is also not unaffected.. We have definitely made progress in the last few decades but we still have a long way to go.

 

Leaving you all with this video where they did a social experiment with kids on gender pay inequality. Please do watch and tell me what you think.

 

Click here to watch