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Mantam-isms for a comeback

This post is dedicated to Tara for the sweet message she left on my blog. I am still grinning ear to ear with gleamy eyes thinking of how someone read my blog twice and was waiting for me to write a new post J

 

The best way to make a comeback after a sabbatical is to write some tidbits of Mantam’s conversations. So here goes:

Remember how I had written in one of my previous posts that Tammu had come up with this idea of naming our future puppy with a name that starts with R so that our family name becomes SMART (Seema, Mannat, Abbas, R and Tamanna)?

Now the lass has gone a step further and planned of having her own family called DART. That would D for Darcy, A for Angela, R for Rachel and T for herself, Tamanna. When I asked who these girls are, she replied that she is going to adopt three girls. She is not going to marry anyone. Well, we’ll see! She also hugged me and said ‘Thank God, you are married someone whose name starts with a vowel! How else could we have come up with a word?’

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On the eve of our wedding anniversary this year, Mantam had made our bed neatly and written a message on the door which read “Have a good night Mumma and Baba. Love, Mantam”. Next morning

Mannu – Mumma, how was your night? Did you watch a movie? Stay up late?

Me – Nahh, we played a movie but felt so sleepy that we went to bed soon after you both slept

Mannu – Oh Mumma! How unromantic are you both, huh!!

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Tammu was recently brainstorming on what gifts to ask Santa for Christmas. And I was relieved that they knew we were the Santa and didn’t have to worry about getting gifts as per their wishlist.

Anyway, the funny bit was she could not come up with ideas as to what to ask for. The girl was later found googling for ideas to come with a Christmas wishlist! Can you believe it?

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The latest fad in our lives has been watching the Full House series back to back. It was an amazing feeling as this was one of my favourite series during my childhood days. I had never imagined that Mantam would love it as much as I did, if not more. We even finished the first two seasons of Fuller House on Netflix. Mantam have been so obsessed with it that most of our conversations see us quoting examples of similar situation in Full House.

One of the episodes saw Danny (who was a widower) begin dating and his daughters did not like the idea of their father seeing other women. When he saw the way the girls were impacted, he sat them down and had a conversation. He asked them why they were upset to which they said that he didn’t love their mother any more as he had started dating other women. He explained to them that he will always love their mom and that she would be happy to see him move on. They asked him how he knew it for sure. He told them how mum and dad have such conversations where they discuss what would happen if one of them wasn’t alive anymore. They had discussed this when their mum was alive and that’s how he knew.

On seeing this, Mantam paused the episode, turned to me and asked, “Have you had this conversation with Baba?” I was stunned and was speechless for a moment. I blurted out “Errr….. No!”. They said, “Then you should have it Mumma. Not that something will or should happen. But you should have the conversation anyway”

I didn’t know what to say! When did my girls grow so old and mature?

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Once I caught them doing something that they weren’t supposed to. I can’t remember what it was, thanks to my declining memory!

But I was sure that it was Tammu who was the culprit.

Me: Tammu, I know it is you who did it.

Tammu: How do you know Mumma?

Me: I’m your Mumma. So I know it’s you.

Tammu: I’m not innocent, I’m not innocent. (She meant that she is innocent)

Me: There, you confessed it.

Tammu: What?!

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They have these spelling tests every week.

Me: Girls how many did you get wrong today?

Tammu: I got one spelling mistake wrong.

Me: Tammu, you are so talented. You even get mistakes wrong?!

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Mantam usually have this habit of giving me instant feedback when they are served a meal. Usually it’s good with words like delicious, yummy, really good, scrumptious etc etc. Occasionally I hear, I don’t like it, it’s too spicy . One day Tammu gave me a feedback that I will never forget. Actually it was one of my experiment dishes that did not turn out as expected. Honestly I didn’t like it either. Tammu had a spoon of it and without batting an eyelid, said “This does not taste like anything” Can you beat that?

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I did a health program recently for 6 weeks and lost 7.5 kilos. Before starting the program, I was explaining Mantam what it was and how it works etc. Mantam understood that I would lose weight with the program. But Tammu had another serious doubt – “Mumma, will you grow tall when you do it?”

 

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Posted by on August 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Eleven completed, forever to go

Dear Abbas,

Just another year passes by with the hope of my family accepting our union, and honestly the chances seem to be slimmer with each passing day. Sometimes, I tell you that I have given up but you rekindle the belief that they will come around one fine day. I dunno if we will have the much hyped ‘happily ever after’ with my family but today I want to rejoice the ‘happily-married-for-eleven-years’ moment.

Our relationship has grown so much. We both have transformed a lot shouldering responsibilities together, facing new challenges life hurled at us and most importantly by being parents to the two little fairies who we brought into this beautiful world. It has been one helluva journey, hasn’t it? As much as a fairy tale that it sounds, we have had our fair share of obstacles, downfalls, skirmishes and the not-so-nice moments. But they have only made us and our love for each other stronger.

The life in this country tests our patience at times. With no support whatsoever, the going gets tough. Both of us seek downtime and we hardly get any. Atleast I have a great deal of fun as I go to my company’s parties, go out for lunch with colleagues/friends, do things that I enjoy every now and then. But you have been working tirelessly without any rejuvenation. I wish you took some time off for yourself but you tell me that you would rather spend time with the three of us.

In the last one year, as my workouts saw the transition of going from seldom to almost non-existent, I became increasingly lethargic. Although I still do all the cooking, and the usual chores in the house, I do realize how I drag myself reluctantly to tick them off. Those were the days when I would be up at the break of dawn even during the weekends and by the time you and Mantam woke up, breakfast and tea would be at your service, But these days, not only am I sleeping in but also am waking up so late that you make tea and wait for me get my lazy butt off the bed and make breakfast for everyone. As a result the lunch and every other weekend chore gets delayed by domino effect. You always pitch in and help me to get my act together in every possible way that you can. I can’t thank you enough for supporting me even in my worst possible avatar. If this is not true love, I wonder what is?!

You have always been and still are the best at calming me down when I’m agitated, admonishing me when I lose my sensibility, correct me when I am at fault, praise me generously every so often that it makes me wonder what I have done to deserve you. You put me on a pedestal in front of Mantam and encourage them to appreciate all that I do for them. You are so proud of me and keep yapping away to all and sundry about every trivial of my achievements. I try my best to reciprocate all this but I think I still have a lot to improve on.

Thank you for being the kind of man that you are. I love the way you always make sure that you ask me before even making trifle commitments with friends/relatives. I feel so proud to have married a man who has no qualms about declaring that he will be able to confirm after checking with his wife. I feel at peace thinking of what a good example you are setting of being a lover/husband and a father. Mantam would clearly know what qualities they must look for in their life partner.

Marrying you was the best decision of my life and I consider myself fortunate to be your wife. Here’s to many more years of nagging, annoying and of course doing what we know best, loving each other!

Forever yours,

Seemu

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Driving diary – Part 2

Continued from Part 1 here:

After my initial goal of getting my driving license flew out of the window, it left us alone till I turned 31. That one year went by with endless running around over the weekends for house hunt, selection appointments and tonnes of other commitments. As the next birthday dawned I realized how I had one item on my checklist before I turned 30 but a whole year passed by without me sitting behind the wheels. I wondered if I would ever get that box ticked ever in my life (Yeah, I can get a bit dramatic from time to time). Whenever I would look at women driving on the road so confidently, I would tell myself how I had failed at learning this life skill and had to always be dependent on Abbas. I had given up the slightest hope of driving. Let alone aiming at getting a license.

And then the universe conspired to slam me with so many of my friends and acquaintances getting their driving licenses. Although I was happy for all of them from the bottom of my heart, it drove me nuts and made me feel like a total loser. I slowly started asking Abbas to let me drive and practice when we went out together. But husbands, I tell ya! Abbas would pant, yell, sigh, scream, hallucinate in the passenger seat and make me go bananas. He once shouted at me thinking I was driving too much towards the left that he thought I was going to bang all the parked cars to my left like some Rohit Shetty movie. We would then return to our designated seats to regain normalcy.

One of my friends informed me that she had got the DL on her 5th attempt. She told me how the officer almost yelled at her saying “You will kill me”. She insisted that if she could do it, anyone could. The only key is to not give up. It stuck with me. Also there were posts by RM and DM about how they got their DLs and the thought of getting DL started haunting me. One of my friends M got her driving license in February and told me how her instructor was amazing and gave me his contact number. I declared to Abbas that I was going to book my driving test first. I would keep procrastinating otherwise. If I had a date fixed, I would certainly work towards it. So we booked 31st March for the driving test.

There were almost 2 months at my disposal to get ready to face the demon (In this case the Driving Test Officer). We had too many things going in February, so I decided to start taking lessons from the instructor in March. I thought I would practice with Abbas in February. Abbas would let me drive only in quiet eerie streets as he would lose his mind as soon as he sat in the passenger seat. One evening when I was in high spirits about driving, I said that I would drive to our favourite restaurant. All was well till I did some silly mistake and Abbas yelled at me. I totally went blank and my mind wandered elsewhere. I jumped two signals, Abbas snapped! He lost his temper and I was too stunned to react. I don’t know how we reached the place. We parked the car and had our meal without any conversation with each other. We were only talking to Mantam and in our own heads. I kept asking myself how I could jump signals and that I had been a hazard on the road. One voice in my told me that I must never drive ever again in my life, the other backed Abbas and supported his reaction, and the last one calmed me down and asked me to get the keys and drive back home again or this incident would prove a major setback again in my driving journey. I had to overcome it by driving again at the earliest.

When we walked towards the car park, two voices in my head were battling with each other – to drive or not! As we reached the car, Abbas, who was silent till then, brought his right hand towards me and handed me the car keys and smiled. I grabbed it, I just had to! I drove decently back home although he had to park the car as I was still confused about the direction in which the car moves in reverse gear! Sigh….

To be continued….

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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What’s up?

It’s been a while since my last post? This year after the Blogathon, I had vowed to be regular throughout the year. Almost everyday, I have had a blogpost drafted in my mind but somehow other mundane chores take priority on most days. On remaining days, it’s my slumber!

I just want to write down what’s been happening in our lives in my favourite bullet points:

  • First things first, We got the  much awaited council approval of plans for our home on 20th of Feb (Co-incidentally the same day 3 years ago we had got our Australian visa grant letter). Subsequently, we also received the letter of authority to commence construction by the end of February. We were thrilled and couldn’t wait for the construction to kick start. But as the old adage goes, “Man proposes and God disposes”, March dawned with heavy and continuous rains. There has been no breather since and it’s going to rain cats and dogs till the end of this month. In summary, we are just waiting while paying our monthly installment for a piece of land. Sigh!!
  • I have been practicing driving with Abbas (only to increase his blood pressure everytime he sits in the passenger seat). I have booked my test on 31st of March. I booked driving lessons too, just to be thorough with rules. Although I have no hope of passing in the first attempt (No human that I know of has passed in my suburb in their maiden test), I am determined this time to keep at it. Thanks to RM, Maya, TP, Roopa and some of my other friends here who were as scared as me but went ahead and gave the tests till they achieved that lucrative Licence. I am hoping for the best but prepared for the worst.
  • This year when we went to enroll Mantam to the swimming classes, Abbas told me that the adult beginner class has slots too and we grabbed the opportunity with both hands and got enrolled. I must write a separate post on our journey.
  • Mantam’s school music band conducts try-outs for kids when they enter Year 3. Mannu was sleected for flute and Tammu for Clarinet. Mannu had already completed her basic course in Drums and was so passionate about it, so we requested if there was an option for her to do drums instead of flute. Initially they denied but later told us that there is a spot available for drums. Tammu had also done keyboard last year but we saw that her interest in keyboard had hit rock bottom by the end of the year, so we let her go with Clarinet. They have lessons every Monday after school and rehearsals every Monday morning before school.
  • I had joined a bootcamp near office and went atleast twice a week but ever since the Monsoon season started, workouts have taken a back seat.
  • While we are talking about learning new skills, I have learnt to make the heart pattern on coffee that the baristas make. We have a professional coffee machine at workplace where we start from the scratch by grinding the coffee beans. After several failed disastrous attempts, I am now able to make the heart pattern and planning to slowly graduate to the leaf pattern.
  • Mantam are continuing with the gymnastics classes this year too. But they don’t have the same enthusiasm as last year. Abbas and I are wondering if we should let them continue or quit. We did ask them a couple of times but got very neutral answers.
  • Mannu got selected in her school’s dance group this year while Tammu got selected in the T-Ball team.
  • Too many things going on our lives and we are loving it. 2017 has been a great year so far and we hope it continues to be so

How have you all been? How’s this year treating you so far?

 

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Day 26 | Aussie Aussie Aussie

Wishing all the readers a very happy Indian Republic Day and Australia Day! Last two years we went to watch India V/s Australia cricket match around this time. This year 26th Jan being a  midweek holiday, we did not have anything special planned but to spend quality family time.

I have been planning to write a post on a few humbling experiences from our life so far in Australia. But I thought I must preserve it for this very day as a dedication to this beautiful country on its national day.

Humanity:

When we went to a beach during our vacation, we kept our belongings on a mat and all four of us got into the water. Abbas asked me to go closer to the crowd but I was feeling more comfortable to stay away from them and enjoy privately from a distance. As we played in the water, we saw a lady approaching us and I felt that she was coming towards us to say something. She came and told us that there were a few girls who were swimming close to the spot that we were at and they had to be rescued because of a whirlpool there some time back. She suggested us to come to the other side where there were more people. Abbas did give me an “I told you so, you didn’t listen to me” gyan, but that’s for another day. What I’m trying highlight is the kind gesture of looking after other people for humanity’s sake. This is just one of the examples we have experienced.

Privacy:

People respect other people’s privacy and never poke their nose into other people’s business unless in situations where one might need help. I can’t express in words how empowering it is to wear, speak, or do whatever you want to do without a single pair of eyes glaring at you, forget about judging you. I have witnessed couples engaged in high-level of PDA in trains but my co-passengers had no reaction whatsoever and I felt as if I was imagining things in my mind and that nothing was probably happening in reality. This country makes me feel free to live the life that I want to and I would never be judged on my choices

Respectfulness:

I am always in awe of the way people speak with so much respect. Forget common people, I have witnessed authorities with power like the police, transport officers speak to people that they have caught in acts of crime or based on suspicions with utmost dignity. This behaviour totally blows me away as I am used to powerful people abusing their supremacy to treat the subordinates like sh!t. During my visits to government offices, banks, post offices, medicare centre, supermarkets, shops, restaurants, the way people are greeted every single time and asked “How are you?” never fails to bring a smile on my face.

Adhering to rules:

Be it traffic rules, elevator etiquettes, boarding and alighting public transport, using the elevator, following rules is like second nature to the people here. It makes life so much easier for everyone, isn’t it? Abbas and I were astounded to know that this country did not have traffic police. We wondered how was the traffic was managed then? We now realize that there is no need for a supreme power to manage you if you can manage your responsibilities by yourself.  People make use of the garbage bins, they make sure that they use the public properties like electric barbeques, restrooms, showers etc in parks or beaches with utmost care such that the next person succeeding them gets these facilities in the same condition as they did in the first place.

Honesty:

We were impressed by the kind of trust people have on one another here. My office has this lolly box which is filled with candies and whatever money is collected by selling those lollies goes for charity. Now there is no person physically selling them. They just place a box with a piggy bank and a note saying 3 lollies for $1. And people put money in there and take the lollies. The box gets replenished every week or so again. There are stalls on highway that sell fruits, flowers, eggs, manures etc with the cost of the commodity and a box to leave the money. This kind of faith was very unusual for us before migrating to this country.

Caring:

Remembering an instance when Mantam’s school bus came to the station and dropped the kids off. Most parents picked their children but one young boy couldn’t find his. Mind you, this bus is not the school’s private bus but the usual public transport that plies students during that time. The bus driver could have easily left the place without giving a damn about the boy but he chose to wait there. Seeing that, two other people, who were around, also came in and started talking to the boy, ensuring that he is calm and does not get worked up. Curiously I waited there too worried about the kid. All these people waited for atleast 10-15 minutes till the child’s mom reached there and they left with relief. There have been so many instances where random strangers chipped in to help elderly with their luggage while boarding or alighting from trains. Even simple things like clothes left for drying fell from the balcony and someone bothered to hang it using a hanger near the garage. Once Tammu’s dupatta (she dressed in Ghagra choli for multicultural day) went missing in the morning while walking to school and in the evening when I returned home, I saw that someone had nicely folded and tucked it on gates close to the footpath. Not only for humans, they care for their animals too.

There are always exceptions to all these attributes I mentioned, which is natural. But in general, these qualities are very much tangible in day-to-day life and we always feel thankful for it.

Leaving you with some memes about life in Australia in general for fun

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Picture credit: Meanwhile in Australia FB group

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Day 18 | Do you remember?

Annu (dad),

  • those mornings when you would shave and I would stand right next to you talking nineteen to the dozen?
  • when you would smear after-shave on my cheeks to scare me that I would grow beard just like you and I would freak out?
  • when you, Ajja (grandpa) and I would read newspaper simultaneously sitting in a circle and pass on the sections that we had read clockwise till all three of us would have read the entire newspaper?
  • the time when we would solve crossword along with Annamma (grandma)?
  • those nights when Amma would have cooked something boring, you would go out on the pretext of finishing some pending work at the shop and return with Biryani or some other delicious takeaway from Shetty Lunch Home?
  • the numerous times that you bought me clothes in various shades of yellow in the quest for that perfect shade that would suit me?
  • the Harry Potter books that you brought for me whenever you returned from your Bangalore trip?
  • how you never failed to buy boxes of Kaju Katli for me as it was both our favourite. (It is Mannu’s absolute favourite too. I told you she is your replica, didn’t I?)
  • the time when you took me out in your car early mornings to teach me driving as soon as I turned eighteen?
  • how you would tell Sindhu (my sis) and I that you would even go to the extent of bringing tigress’s milk for your daughters’ sake, if need be.
  • Annu, would you please bring me my dad’s love back?
 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Day 20 | Do I miss India?

Some time back TP had asked me this question if I miss India and feel like going back. I had to actually ponder for a short span of time to answer her. Frankly, I did not miss India as much as I thought I would. To simply put it, we were just the four of us in India as well living under one roof for the last couple of years. In-laws stayed with us for some time or we visited them. Even in India, Abbas and I had full time jobs and we would spend the same amount of time with Mantam. If you ask Abbas, he tells that he badly misses the domestic help there as he has to share the household duties here. I cooked back in India also, and it’s the same here again. There is no need to sweep or mop the home as we use vacuum cleaner and we have a dishwasher to wash the dishes. Folding, ironing and arranging the clothes in the cupboard was also done by me in India and is being continued her as well. So, not much of a difference in our routine there.

Then I thought in a different angle. In terms of festivals, we celebrate the same festivals that we used to back in India. But I did miss the festive spirit in the air. Then came November and with it started the festivities here which pretty much made up for it. But when it comes to other occasions like marriages or pooja or family gatherings etc, we never got any opportunity to attend these in India. Though I lived in Bangalore and there were instances where a few of my relatives had some functions but they would not invite for the simple reason of avoiding any clashes, not that I would have gone had they done for formality sake too. Abbas’s side of relatives hardly exist for us as they never take any interest to be in touch with us. Only when we go to Kolkata, we pay a visit to his village where all the relatives live. It ends there, till we pay another visit J The only social gatherings that we attended was Mantam’s friends’ birthday parties, which we do here too. So there!

The only major thing that I badly miss about being in India is the access to outside food. The variety, the choice, the home delivery, the cost and last but not the least, the satisfaction after eating is unmatchable. We live in an area where it is a mix of people from all around the globe. So we get all kinds of cuisine here if we choose to eat out but somehow we have never been satisfied after spending our money in any of the outlets so far.TP has mentioned many restaurants in a different area and we are yet to venture in that direction. So till then, yes I do miss the freedom to tell Abbas to pick that family pack of Biryani on the way home or order some Chinese food which was sure to suit our palate. So, I always end up cooking meals most of the time even on days that I sulk but still prefer to eat my own cooked food rather than waste bucks on something that nobody will enjoy anyway.

Another reason for me not missing India is because I am a kind of person who loves to live in the present. I’m not bragging about myself but I have noticed this quality in me over time. I left Kundapur almost 9 years back and this is the 4th place I’m living in since. I have always enjoyed my stay in each one of these cities and always made the most of it. I have been sad before leaving one place but moved on as soon as I landed the next. Thankfully, this quality of mine has kept me going or else I would have been devastated soon after my wedding. Therefore, instead of cribbing about what I left behind and what I don’t have or could have, I try to count my blessings. I think I will write a separate post on all the positives about our move and also perhaps a few negatives by taking a cue from her.

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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