Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Last Day

I have now started work, and it's been a grand total of two days. But this is about how I spent the last day of my sabbatical, so let's just focus on that.

It was a Monday - deliberately chosen because I just didn't want to start work on a Monday, and had decided to finally do something that I had successfully put off for ten whole months.

You see, early on in the sabbatical when I had been leafing through some papers, I had found two cheques issued in favour of Vijay by an organization called Arogranite Industries or some such thing. During his ''investment'' phase, Vijay had bought shares and they had issued dividends through these cheques - which were valid for only 3 months from the date of issue.

Being quick and observant, I had noticed that they were from 2008 and 2009. Therefore, thousands of moneys would be losts if I didn't get them revalidated at an address that I noted with interest, happened to be one based in Delhi. What better time to undertake such an errand than a sabbatical, I thought - and promptly hid them under some other boring papers for several months.

So I had decided that there was no way I was ending my sabbatical without at least making an attempt to correct and reverse the effects of the carelessness on my husband's part. After all, I thought, someone had to be responsible - so what if he's been bringing in the bread and butter for so many months while I've been on a long break - I could definitely get his cheques revalidated.

On Monday, therefore, I woke up bright and early. I was a Man on a Mission. Okay, so I was a woman on a mission, but a Man on a Mission just sounds better in a certain alliterative sense and I've always wanted to say that so bear with me. Anyway, so I used my trusty driver Kamal and trustier Google Maps to get to Green Park Extension, which must be differentiated from Green Park, please. Both Kamal and Google Maps, however, gave up as soon as we reached Green Park Extension. It was beyond their capabilities to find S block.

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers, which is probably one reason my life has been so messed up. In any case, after being misdirected by several auto-wallahs and rickshaw-wallahs and meandering around that particular congested part of Delhi for about an hour, we accidentally stumbled upon the correct area - miraculously, I found that I was a mere six buildings away from dear old Arogranite Industries registered office. I got out of the car and practically danced on air all the way to the second floor of the building - the sleepy guard on the ground floor informed me that there was no such office on the floors above, but I took one look at his face and knew him to be the liar that he was. Sure enough, on the second floor, there was a sleepy little office with some sleepy little people, who accepted my cheques readily enough.

I had been all prepared with my spiel about how it was all Vijay's fault, but no one really seemed to care. Apparently this kind of thing happens a lot and they accepted my cheques without batting an eyelid. It all seemed ridiculously simple - they just asked me to write down the new address and I did. The entire procedure took about five minutes and that was it. I felt a little foolish. This was something even young Kamal could have managed, assuming after about seven or eight hours of searching, that he would have located the office by himself.

Nevertheless, I left their office with a feeling of having truly accomplished something. I was thrilled, in fact.

I sent Vijay, who happened to be in Jaipur that day, a message that read

''I'm responsible, you suck! I'm responsible, you suck!''

After allowing him to puzzle over this for a while, I called and explained to him what I had done and ensured that he was duly impressed. This simple yet vaguely heroic act of mine had saved us several thousand rupees! Yayy!

I had a beatific smile on my face almost all the way home. I then noticed the time. It was lunchtime. The first half of the day had gone. And then it hit me. On the last day of my sabbatical, I had spent over three hours visiting Arogranite Industries Registered Office in Green Park Extension to get a Cheque Revalidated. The sheer unadulterated boring-ness of that hit me like a ton of bricks. This is how I had chosen to spend the last day? Seriously? What was wrong with me? I quickly entered a state of depression, which lasted until I ate a Twix, which thankfully was soon after.

I then got a call from Vijay who drily informed me that he had received a call from Arogranite Industries Registered Office and they had said that while some crazy lady had breezed in triumphantly waving a couple of cheques, they needed something known as Address Proof and a couple of other boring documents whose unworthy names I have forgotten.

He said ''I wanted to tell's my her instead...she's responsible...I suck!''

So that was that, I thought, demoralized all over again. It appears that we have to make another trip to Arogranite Industries Registered Office with the documents that they have requested in order to have our revalidated cheques sent to our new address.I felt like weeping but philosophically reached for another Twix, instead.

And decided - I would ensure that we went back to Arogranite someday to get this over and done with. We had waited since 2008. We could wait a little longer, assuming Arogranite Industries is the robust company that Vijay believes it to be, and will not shut down in the next couple of years.

So the next time I take a sabbatical, I'm totally doing this. And early on, not at the fag end.
By the second last day, at least.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sabbatical Final Round Up tomorrow I start work.

It's at my old office, and it's an interesting project, really - it's part time, and not a long-term commitment  Still, it's the official end of the sabbatical. Dead tired as I am right now, I wanted to do one final round up of my sabbatical, which ended up being ...almost ten months long!

So here goes, as I look back over the last few months ( apologies if you've heard some of this before, but this is really a list more for me than anything else)

1. Went on the GM diet and lost a couple of kilos
2. Took up Zumba and been doing it almost throughout, lost the remaining extra kilos. Toyed with the idea of Instructor training, but still toying. In the meantime, can lead the choreos for about a dozen songs. Just for fun.
3. Gave my kids an awesome birthday party, all combined since they're all born in the same month. They turned 5 and 2 respectively.
4. Started and settled the kids into playschool. Made sure I went to drop them and pick them up myself everyday till they were comfortable.
5. Launched my first book - and just found it's in the Top 30 titles of HarperCollins for their 2013 order form. Lots of good stuff around Just Married, Please Excuse.
6. Volunteered for the first time ever at my daughter's school to tell the kids about Eid (!)
7. Hung out with Peanut a lot more - took her places like Mindcafe, Hangout and most importantly to Happy School as my teaching assistant.
8. Volunteered to teach English at the Happy School to a bunch of Class 1 students every Saturday. I hope to continue this one.
9. Hung out with my grandma three days a week, even though she stayed in Noida with my Mom. Lost both grandma and grandpa this January. Features at no. 9 in this list, but is the most important part of my sabbatical.
10.Took guitar lessons for a couple of months. Enjoyed thoroughly. Abandoned soon after because it was all getting too much. No regrets. I continue to play at amateur levels, will do so through my life and have made my peace with it.
11.Filed my tax returns and got our paperwork in *some* semblance of order. It's a start!
12. We shifted house from the third floor to the ground floor and are enjoying the latter thoroughly given that there is no complaint now from the neighbours if the twins bang things around, ride their cycles inside the house or clomp around in my high heeled shoes.
13. Hung out more with my mom, sis and brother than before. We have a whatsapp group called Da-Lal Street. Also known as Duh-Lal street given the quality of the conversation there most days.
14. Looked out for my maids - getting one tuitions in english and math, and opened a bank account for the other one, took one more to the hospital to treat her prolapsed disc. I could tell you more but that would mean telling you how many maids we have, so let's move on.
15. I finally looked up and learnt the meaning of 'sic'. Jesus, this is a weird list.
16. Started and continuing yoga lessons with my father-in-law. Became a fan of the Surya Namaskar.
17. Finally called those two old college friends Amit and Avantika and their families over for a lovely Sunday lunch - this from the woman who hardly ever entertains. Also spent more time with old friends and important family members than ever before; blissful lunches with my retired mother at various places, including a recent picnic with her and the kids at my favourite Lodhi gardens.
18. Experimented with cooking - mostly baking. Currently only make muffins for the children, chocolate and banana at regular intervals.
19. Bought me a desk and a new shelf and created a nice writing corner. My favourite part of the house.
20. Wrote a book and had it accepted. It launches this September.
21. Finished the first draft for ''Still Married, Thank You'' last week. My editor laughed at me and said ''You keep busy.'' Hope to have that out next year.
22. Adopted the colony cafe in December and organized a bunch of activities there, including a book reading, yoga session, Christmas carols and of course, the Zumba. Started a Facebook group to get the community together, and got over a hundred people on it now.
23. Started reading up on meditation - read a whole lot of non-fiction. The fiction list didn't see much movement, but I'll get to that soon.
24. Got some much-pending medical check-ups over with. All is well, glad to report.
25. Got Peanut started on Skating and Piano lessons. The former is fun, the latter is sublime although I have to watch my tendency to over-monitor her.
26. Celebrated a ten-year marriage anniversary with the nicest possible man - different from all the years before.

So these are some of the things that got done...many didn't...many more did but I must sleep now...
Overall, got to know myself better, and who my real friends and family are too.
Worth every single moment.
But it's time now.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Peanut the Gourmet

I watch my little daughter, her hair tied up in a ponytail, looking very grown up at the dining table.

She has prepared herself for her meal. Always a fussy eater, everything has to be just right. On her plate, she has some dal, carrots-and-peas, a roti, and two pieces of Tinda that she reluctantly allowed me to serve her. An unopened bottle of Yakult lies next to the plate. She will only open it once she's had a few bites of the food.

I observe how she helps herself to a little bit of Ketchup, without which her meal isn't complete. Unfortunately, being the type who cannot have a meal without ketchup myself, I can scarcely try and forbid this little addition to her food.

She notices that two peas have rolled into the ketchup and wrinkles her nose in disdain. As with so many kids, she can't stand it when one item touches the other item. Apparently, it changes the taste of both irreparably. She uses her tiny little finger to roll the errant peas back into their rightful place on the other side of the plate.

She then carefully takes her vegetables and places them in the very center of her roti; She rolls the roti up to make her  ''Roti Roll'' - this magically transforms the most undesirable of meals into something almost palatable.

I smile indulgently as she carefully dips her roti roll into her Dal.
She then proceeds to dip it into the ketchup.
And my smile disappears when I see that she's now dipping it into...a bowl of Kheer!

'Peanut.' I cry '...What are you doing?'

She freezes and looks at me, unable to figure out what the fuss is all about. 'What?'

It takes me just a second to compose myself and I manage to say nonchalantly 'Nothing. Go ahead.'

She goes ahead and finishes her ritual by dipping her Roti roll-dal-ketchup straight into the Kheer, and then takes a huge bite. She chews with immense satisfaction.

'Good?' I ask her.

Her mouth is too full for her to answer me, but she manages a Mmm-hmmm sound and nods vigorously while chewing.

I continue to watch indulgently as she proceeds to finish her entire meal in this unique way.

Ah, childhood. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Anybody wanna get Vaccinated?

My sister in law is visiting from England - just when Vijay is due to travel there.

'Good timing.' she remarked. 'Have you got your flu vaccinations?' Being a doctor, that's her area of interest.

'Oh yes,' said Vijay. 'Only...perhaps not quite the right one.'

'What do you mean?' she said.

I jumped in to explain. 'Yesterday.' I shot a withering look at Vijay. 'Vijay decided to go to some Jeewan Clinic. I was with him, and we were supposed to go to Artemis but he said that was closer, so we might as well go there.'

'Okayyy' said the sister-in-law.

'That wasn't the problem, though.' I continued 'The problem was that when we landed there, there were already four patients before us and the doctor had still not landed up. No problem, Vijay said...we already know we want the Vaxigrip vaccination, that's what our Jijaji (also a doctor) had recommended. So why should we wait for a doctor, he asked. Can't some pappu over here actually just administer the vaccine?

No sir, they told him politely at the reception. We have to get a consultation with the doctor first and then he will only tell...

What nonsense, said Vijay. This is just a way to make money. I don't need a consultation. I just need the Vaxigrip. Bring on the Pappu.

He was so convincing, I told the bemused sister-in-law, that they finally agreed to let Pappu bring out the vaccination. I watched as Vijay rolled up his sleeve and got the vaccination. Just a quick jab in the shoulder.
He then called out to me as I sat at the reception area 'hey, why don't you also get the Flu vaccination? It'll help you also.'

Without thinking too much about it, I said 'okay.' I'm always up for a little extra cover, if you know what I mean. He beckoned to me, clearly afraid that either I or Pappu would change our minds, and then before I knew it, I too was being jabbed in the shoulder.

'You're joking' gasped the Sister-in-law. 'You randomly got the vaccination too?'

Indeed I had. I was still rubbing my shoulder when Vijay said to the person at billing 'We'll take another vaccine, so that makes three of them' He confided in me 'Jiyaji was saying he's also looking for this vaccine for Munmun ( his son). It's nowhere to be found in Delhi. Might as well pick it up for him.'

I looked at the vaccine in its box and read 'Influ...'...Wait a minute. This is supposed to be Vaxigrip, right?'

'Oh' said Vijay carelessly 'Pappu over there said they don't have Vaxigrip, but this is the same thing.'

He forked over the money, and only when we were in the car did he call Jiyaji to inform him proudly about what we had done.
'What?' he said into the phone and I knew we had a problem. 'Oh. But I've already bought an extra one for you...' I waited while he finished listening to Jiyaji and then asked 'So can I get the Vaxigrip now? No?...'

Yes, I told the sister-in-law, who by now was in the throes of laughter as if this was the funniest thing she had ever heard. Indeed we had got the wrong vaccine. Pappu had misled us with his supposed knowledge of the world of medicine. Apparently this one was for the Swine Flu and didn't have the same wide coverage as the one we were supposed to get.

That wasn't the worst part, I told her. Jiyaji told Vijay categorically that he did not want this particular vaccine for Munmun, and asked him to return it. Vijay didn't feel like turning around and going back though, and so he spent the rest of the car ride trying to convince our Driver, Kamal that he should get vaccinated with this imposter-vaccine that we had purchased.

'Kamal, tumne Swine Flu suna hai?'

'Haan, sir...aaj kal kaafi chal raha hai.'

'Exactly!' he looked triumphantly at me 'That's why we should get Kamal this vaccination. At least he won't get swine flu. It'll make sure he doesn't have to take unnecessary sick leave...'

'You're ridiculous.' I burst out and didn't talk to him all the way home.

The Sister-in-law paused with the laughing long enough to say that if we had indeed gone ahead and bought the vaccine, she might as well administer it to our poor hapless driver -she is herself a doctor, after all. 'Show me the vaccine?'

I went over to my bookshelf and picked it up to bring it to her.

'What?' She was shocked. 'You kept it at ambient temperature? I'm sure it's to be refrigerated...these things usually are...'

'Is it?' Vijay was surprised 'But I'm sure they didn't tell us anything of the sort.And I'm pretty sure ours were also at ambient temperature...they didn't take it out of the fridge or anything...'

She looked at the box and in about two seconds, found the clear bold instructions that read 'Keep stored under refrigeration only.'

'This' she informed us, the laughter returning 'Is now deactivated. I can't say about the ones they give you, but I can tell you for sure...there is no point in jabbing Kamal with this, it will not protect him at all.'

'But' I protested wildly, in a final attempt to make use of our purchase 'We should still do it, because it will psychologically impact him...the Placebo effect.'

Sister-in-law clutched her sides with laughter and said 'I've never heard of people getting vaccinated like this...Please,' she begged me 'you must blog about this.'

Fine, I told her sulkily. Fine. I will.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

If You're in Bangalore...

It's been years since we've lived there, our flat in Bangalore. These pictures mailed to me by our ertswhile tenant ( who moved out just yesterday) made me feel very nostalgic about the place. It's really a beautiful complex.

So anyway, he's gone now with his little family. Therefore, we're currently looking for a tenant. This place is 2 bedrooms plus a Study, on the 2nd floor, 1700 square feet in East Bangalore ( near the old Airport). If you know someone who is willing to rent the place on company lease, do direct them here! I can be reached at yashodhara dot lal at gmail dot com.

...and a big thanks to our tenant of the last six years who maintained the place beautifully! Would be great to get another tenant like him.