Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Weekend

Aah. Here it is!

Whoops. There it was...

Zumba in the mornings, 3 Parent-Teacher Meetings to Attend, various other exciting events in the colony. Quick as a flash, Sunday evening hath arriveth ( Donth thath justh sound like lisping?) Anyway, going forward, I hope to be able to fit writing into the new schedule, and that includes blogging at least once a week.

See you around, guyzzz!

P.S - a big thanks to those of you who did bother to delurk on the last post. Waiting to hear from more as motivation to actually take out the time to carry on with this space!

P.P.S - conversation with Peanut -

'Mum, is Roald Dahl alive?'
'Is Enid Blyton alive?'
'Wow. Are all authors dead?'
(Silence for a moment and then she looks at me appraisingly)
'Oh yeah. YOU'RE alive.'
(Goes back to her book while I continue to stare at her)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

And yet another 'Final' Sabbatical Round up

So I find myself back at work after a bit of a gap. Older and wiser and yet ready and eager. It kind of just happened, but I think I was ready for it.

The last couple of years have been great fun and a wonderful learning experience. But it kind of hit me when a lady of about my age attended my Zumba class and then asked if I could be her 'mentor' - she said that I seemed to be following my passion and it looked so enviable and that's what she wanted to be doing now that she's had a baby and been working for ten years herself...and so on. The alarm bells went off in my head. Over the last couple of months, I had been feeling restless and influenced greatly by Cal Newport's book ''So Good They Can't Ignore You''. I highly recommend this to anyone on the verge of quitting their job in favour of the wonderful, entrepreneurial, ''follow your passion'' type of life. From the outside, I realized, it really looked like that's what I was doing. I don't regret a single moment of the last two years, but the fact is that there's a lot to be said for having to get up and get ready and go to work and of course, having an income outside of some not-very-impressive royalty cheques. So I told the lady not to be fooled by appearances, and to basically read the book herself!

I passed out of IIM-B in 2002 and had a pretty decent record in my field of Marketing so I was very lucky to have built that track record before I took my break. The most fun I've ever had was at my last job as Business Head for a movie review website. So I've been lucky to find a role now which looks like it will be perhaps as interesting, and that too, in Gurgaon. All this kind of just happened, and it happened at a time when I realized that Pickle-Papad are well-settled in school, all three kids tend to keep each other busy, and my help R seems to have settled back in for at least the medium term with us. Now that the children are older, it is clearer that they should be able to take care of themselves and each other. It amazes me how much of a help Peanut already is, with her advanced reading skills, in assisting  in getting the twins homework done.

I've done one earlier 'final' round up before I went back to work at my old organization in 2012. That was a stint of a few months; subsequent to which I had two more work assignments. The one that I'm taking on currently may last longer if all goes well ( although I've already had a bit of an adventure on Day 3 which I'm too embarrassed to report and maybe will show up in a subsequent book).

Despite the fact that I've had 3 work assignments over the last two years running into almost a year in total, I just felt like taking a look at the overall period and musing over what's happened. So here goes:

- After Just Married, Please Excuse (in August 2012) came my second book 'Sorting Out Sid', which released earlier this year (Feb 2014). If you still haven't read my books, please follow the links and check out the reviews and ratings on Flipkart- they're also available on Amazon as e-books and I promise you they're laugh riots at the very least. Now, 'Dear Rimi' (work in progress title) is already with HarperCollins and my esteemed Chief Editor loves the book, which is really saying something. It will be out next year sometime. Simultaneously, I've also written a funny childhood memoir and am trying to figure out what to do with that one - I've got great feedback from some of you on the first three chapters and just need to see about the publishing plan for it. So as you can see, I'm kind of written out for now anyway and felt like taking a break from it. However, when inspiration strikes, I'll be back and doing the writing thing for an hour a day. I've made my peace with the fact that I much prefer looking upon writing as a passion than a career and can't follow the advice about ''sitting down every single day to write no matter what''. I just can't. But you'll be seeing lots of books from me. 5 before I'm forty for sure! And I'm parking here, in September 2014, a random prediction that there's going to be significant developments for me when it comes to writing after December 2016. It will be fun to check back here after two years and see if it happens!

- I'm a weekend Zumba instructor with the excellent team at Delhi Salsa Club, led by the inimitable Sameer Sachdeva. Although I only take a weekend batch, I'm really happy about the fact that this month I've got 10 students signed up and they really seem to enjoy the workout. I've been tempted often to take on mid-week classes, even went to Ozone Gym for 5 Thursdays, but gave that up as I figured that it was eating into other things.

I'm highly amused about the fact that in an interview last year, someone made a sarcastic remark about ''how will you manage work when you do this...Zumba thing?'' following it up immediately and pre-emptively with ''don't feel you have to be defensive, of course''. I answered him politely but I was thinking it would make sense for him to take out a couple of hours a week for his own workout and no one would question him about how that would affect work. His colleague of course, topped him on the same day by asking me ''Wow. 3 kids, huh? How will you manage them and work?'' Needless to say, it didn't work out with that organization and I'm particularly glad. Incidentally- a year later and apparently at least one of them has quit already.

But coming back to the Zumba - it's a brilliant form of exercise and I'm just so glad that I stumbled upon Sameer, totally by chance. Any other instructor would unlikely have left the kind of impression on me that he did, and his initial training helped much more than the actual Zumba workshop. I'm hoping to keep this up for as long as I'm physically able to.

- I finally found an excellent music school in Gurgaon, several months back for Peanut and me. My daughter's piano playing has reached a whole new level with a wonderful teacher called Vee, who is now unfortunately leaving the country. But she has been replaced by another great teacher who comes all the way from the Delhi School of Music and we are still enjoying our lessons. I'm also learning guitar  again under a wonderful young man at the same school, while Peanut goes in for a group vocal session. The wonderful young man is probably ten or twelve years younger than me, but has a distinguished style and polished vocabulary and turns out to have been an engineer and a trade analyst who left JP Morgan because he just didn't like it very much. It puts a little pressure on me to have to practice two musical instruments but I'm telling myself that surely 10 minutes a day on each is manageable while I'm strict with Peanut about getting in a good disciplined 30 minutes in total on her piano. The important thing is for her to develop her talent. Me, I'm doing it for the fun of it and yes, it is fun to finally correct my guitar technique and learn a new instrument, figuring out how to read music ( it's like a new language altogether) and so on.

- To my regret, I have stopped going to The Happy School for now. The last thing I did for them was prepare a bunch of students for their Annual Day function and that felt really good. I will need to figure out another way of being associated with them. The kids can definitely still expect their annual haul from Santa Claus after writing him letters about what they want, but I don't know if I'm going to be able to be more regular with my weekend voluntary spoken English classes there. After all, weekends are all I get with the family, so I'm trying not to guilt-trip myself too much about this.

- I did a lot of fun stuff with the kids in terms of just hanging out, taking them to various places in Delhi which you'll have read about if you're a regular reader here. And now for the first time ever, we're all going to Goa as a family next month for just a couple of days, using the Goa Lit Fest where  I am apparently an invited author as an excuse- now, young Pickle and Papad have never been on a plane or a beach, so it's a first on both counts for them. I think I'm more excited about it than they are though. Cool, huh?

- And then there's the Yoga. The most excellent instructor, Apoorva Gupta, about a year younger than me but approximately seven times wiser nevertheless, made her way to Gurgaon last year and I got in touch with her. She's often exasperated with me but also keeps pointing out changes in my posture and spine that I never notice myself - the practice is definitely helping me because it's meditative in nature and I highly recommend Yoga to all and sundry all the time. I am no longer able to take instruction from my father-in-law as he is in not in a great physical condition himself these days, but Apoorva is helping me a great deal with doing Yoga the 'right' way. And while I know there's a lot on my plate, the good thing is that these classes are only once a week or sometimes once a fortnight if we are both too busy to make it and she ends the class by making these very handy notes and diagrams for me which ensure that I don't forget what she taught me to do for the next week.

- We've got ourselves a CA-type of person who's quite efficient, ensures that our taxes are filed on time, that we aren't overpaying and we actually manage to get our refunds from the government and in general has shamed us into being at least slightly more organized with regard to future planning and paperwork and filing stuff and all that shit. Many thanks to him for that!

So in short, I'm going to be really busy from now. Not that I've been blogging much anyway, but you can expect to see a post here maybe once a week or so, so please do keep coming back. And it's been a real long time since I asked for a de-lurk and took stock on content direction. I know comments are now mostly on Facebook yada yada but would it trouble you too much to just comment today and let me know who you are and what you'd like to see more of on this blog? Much appreciate it, ta.

P.S - read the book by Cal Newport that I mentioned, okay?
P.P.S. - sadly, I still don't know how to cook although it figured on my sabbatical list. But I cracked those besan ke laddoos. Yesssss!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Will the REAL Shrishti please stand up?

Riding along in the car with my various children often gives me the opportunity to listen in to their conversations.

Peanut: Pickle! You know? I always thought that Shrishti was in your class because one day I saw you say bye to her after school. But today I saw that she was going into Papad's class. So she's in Papad's class.

Pickle: No. Shrishti in MY class.

Peanut: Oh no, but I saw her, her elder sister was dropping her to her class and then she pushed her into Papad's class and not your class.

Me (only slightly aghast, interrupting) Why would she push her in?

Peanut: Ya, she pushed her in, I saw her do it, like this! ( She re-enacts a rather cheerful older sister sideways shove) So now I know that Shrishti is in Papad's class. Right, Papad?

Papad ( gazing dreamily out of the window, not paying any attention whatsoever) Ya.

Peanut (turns to a glowering Pickle) See Pickle?

Pickle: NO! Shrishti in MY class and MY friend.

Peanut (sagely) No but I saw her sister....

Me ( interrupting because I see Pickle clenching his little fist) Peanut, has it occurred to you that perhaps there are two Shrishtis? One in Pickle's class and the other in Papad's class?

Papad ( now attentive suddenly) Are they awso twins?

Me: Now don't be silly Papad, if they were twins, would they be named the same?

Papad (smiles beatifically at his own silliness and goes back to gazing dreamily out the window).

Peanut ( dismissive) Well, even if there are two Shrishtis, the one I am looking for is in Papad's class. That's the REAL Shrishti.

Pickle: Real Shrishti awso in MY class.

Me: Yes, his Shrishti is also real, Peanut. Now stop teasing him.

Peanut: But I'm just saying that the REAL Shrishti is the one that I am looking for, and she is not in Pickle's class.

Me: You can't say his Shrishti isn't real. You're teasing him for no reason.

Peanut: (Sulkily) Alright, alright. ( Adds in a loud whisper) But the REAL Shrishti is Papad's.

Pickle looks like he's about to strike her, but somehow controls himself and comes up with an inspired solution, shouting -


Monday, September 1, 2014

The Children Are Back

The morning hours are quiet and enable me to get some work done - whether it's working on a consulting assignment or a new book. Happy to announce that two book drafts have been created this year (more on them in the next post).

But in the afternoon, it's as if a hurricane is approaching. You can hear the screams from the time that they are fifty feet away - they could be squeals of terror as they pretend that they're being chased home by a rabid dog; screams of delight as they each rush to tell me about some fascinating new development of the day; or just howls about a fight in the bus wherein one of them attempted to deprive the other of a grubby biscuit or something.

Papad waltzes into the room first 'Hello Mumma!' He says cheerfully 'Do you know? I didn't fuss today at all!''

Recalling full well the struggle to get him to wear matching socks in the morning, I swallow and say ''That's great!'' He rushes up and hugs me and then tries to sneakily press a button on my laptop, immediately pissing me off.

Peanut comes in, all officious, and reports ''Hello Mama. Do you know, Papad cried all the way in the bus home because first he ate his lollipop and then wanted to have Pickle's and then Pickle didn't share because you said that we are supposed to eat sweets only on Saturday-Sunday and so then he....''

''Peanut, calm down, take a breath.'' I turn to sullen Papad. ''Papad, did you do that? I've told you not to eat sweets during the week, they're not good for your teeth...''

''But I shared with everyone on the bus.'' Papad retorts defensively.


Peanut nods sagely ''Yes, Mama, he let everyone have a lick from his lollipop and then he ate the rest himself...''

''That's...'I can't find the words.''Ewwwww....'' I glare at my son, aghast. ''Don't ever do that again.''

''Okay.'' he agrees and then says ''But Pickle wasn't sharing me, I shared everybody and...''

The wails from the third child are louder. He has apparently been so upset that he insisted on being carried home all the way from the bus stop. He walks into my room, mouth open so wide that I feel like I am Ma Yashodha and might actually see the whole world in there, but there's nothing apart from a pink tongue and little teeth. His fat cheeks are glistening with tears and he comes up and puts his arms around me, sobbing 'Papad hitted me.''

''You hit him?'' I am very angry at Papad now. I turn to the older sister, always a reliable witness ''You didn't tell me that, Peanut.''

''Ya I was going to tell you but then you interrupted me and started talking to Papad, I was saying that he wanted Pickle's lollipop after eating his own but Pickle was being a good boy and saying that we are not to open the sweets and then Papad hit him on the head with his bottle...''

Pickle, who always stops crying to listen when Peanut relates events in order to make sure that she's getting it right, now pipes up ''No, he hitted me with MY bottle.''

''Ya ya that's what I said that he hit him with his bottle''

''NO! MY BOTTLE!!'' Pickle holds out a fist at his sister and then struggles to reach out and hit her. I restrain him.

''Pickle!''I scold ''We are not supposed to hit each other right?''

''Ya.'' says Papad piously.''Ma'am says Keep yore hands to yore self.''

''You're one to talk.'' I snap at him. ''You hit him. You're not supposed to do that. Now say sorry.''

''Solly.'' Papad says to the wall.

''Say it to Pickle and hug him.'' I order. I have also read enough articles about how forcing apologies isn't the best way of resolving a fight, but I suspect the author didn't have twins and so disregard the advice.

Papad tries to reach out and hug Pickle who shoves him away and buries his face into my neck. Since Pickle is a bit of a less demonstrative child, I secretly enjoy the closeness and continue to hug him while Peanut tells me about seventeen different things at the same time about what happened today in school.

I've read that children become less communicative as they grow and soon there will come a time when I will ask ''So what did you do at school today'' and all I'll get is a sullen ''Nothing.''

So for now, the loudest, most hurricane-like moment of the day when the three burst into the house is a highly treasured moment for me, no matter what it's interrupting.

I know I won't be around at this time of the day for long, so allow me to prepare for the storm now. As long as the screams start up in an hour or so and don't indicate any broken bones, I'll know - life goes on... and life is good.


This post is dedicated to Sindhoora Marru, who emailed me in response to a post on my Facebook page wherein I asked for volunteers to beta-read the first few chapters of my new book. She said in her email -

''Without sounding stalkery, i say i wait for your blog feed everyday. sometimes, i refresh many times a day. i read some of my favorites in ur old posts when i get annoyed waiting.'' 

Sindhoora, enjoy :) and thanks!