Surprise

And this finally happened!

15 years of waiting, and not knowing if ever.

10 years of not really caring

9 months of not knowing

365 days of surprise

My star, my guiding light

Turned One

Seems a year zipped by and yet each day stands out… Etched deep, for ever changing. 

From this crinkly alien ETesque being who stared constantly to a tubby toothless wonder with a constant beam to this curly mopped delight with the most luminiscent smile and constant curousity.

Life is being lived anew.

Every sense awakened.

Every moment cherished.

Where the mundane monotony becomes a delightful dilema.

Why does the skirt swirl when lifted and dropped?

Why does a chain not roll but a balled up piece of paper does?

Did you know a paper when shaken vigorously creates music or that legs when brought down with gusto again and again and again never tire but want that momentum to continue?

Or that sunlight appears different visually through sheer fabric and becomes glorious when it hits your naked skin?

That water in the mouth caused a gurgling sound or that nails when flicked together create a noise loud enough to waken a babe.

That everything has a touch… A cold bottle of water; the folds of your skin; the curve of the bannister; the graininess of wood; the vinyl texture of a car seat that makes dancing music if rubbed fast enough…. That everything has music. From your pursed lips to a piece of paper to the slapping of tiny legs together.

These 365 days have been a heady narrative of wonders rediscovered and uncovered.

Can’t wait for what the next 365 brings….

HAPPINESS REDEFINED

So in the midst of preparing a presentation, reviewing a speech, editing an article and getting the house cleaned (story of my life, and no, I ain’t super woman…I’m any woman you meet) my 10 month old on my lap, in my arms and straddled on my hip. He’s a permanent fixture, my umblical cord to life as I have come to know it.

His head and body twist to unimaginable angles and his voice modulates his high notes as he catches the fan, blinks at the light, catches the sun streaming on his face and beams into his Nanu’s eyes.

He drums a beat on any surface he can lay his tiny, chubby fingers on and scratches a tune on plastic, paper, cloth, you imagine it and there his nails find their mark. He listens to sound that is not audible to a jaded human like me. But there you have it, his fascination with the world is endless.

Every time his dad walks into the room and croons, each time the door bell rings, when his Nanu makes faces at him or his mom (pretend) swings him high and mushes her nose into his cheek the gurgles continue undisturbed.

He’s a meerkat, constantly looking to see what’s going on in his teeny tiny world. He’s an orangutan baby who is dexterous with both his hands and limbs, eyes going goggly at the sight of new objects and old, fascination when the fishes swim towards him ogling from their glass tank while he ogles from yonder trying to fix them with his glare and scare them with his shrieks.

He’s my lil pup, always welcoming the weary one with a smile and a nuzzle, with arms wide open to comfort and soothe. Love unconditional, exuberance unchecked and life as I knew it is not the same anymore.

His infectious smile, and unbridled passion, his unquenchable curiosity and greed to grab all that comes his way, his unwavering trust in knowing he’s safe, his unstinting drive to be himself……

My li’l tyke has changed me and how.

And then I come across this….. and I know I’m on the right path, to define who I am and embrace the world as it could be/should be..

 

 

 

Epiphany

Travelling home last evening listening to Barry White belt out Just the way you are and mesmerized by the crimson sky and balmy breeze I had an epiphany.

Normally I wouldn’t recognize one even if it were the size of my lil boy’s fist suckerpunching my jaw to the sound of a helicopter taking off (that’s the current sound track my lil fella bleats out) but this for some reason just stuck.

“Into each of our lives comes that one particular time or moment when our presence can make a difference

When it is in our hands to make that difference

To add that value

When we can change the course of events

And the magic begins when we recognize that moment and act”

And as the driver started swooshing at every turn bent on banging the bus against projecting walls and hitting the divider I looked on wondering if I have seized these moments and made a difference to what could be and made it what is.

I realized I have.

Now the tricky part was to continue Staying True to self and Staying Bold.

Happy New Year everyone…..

 

 

The Intouchables

3 in the morning trying to put my li’l tubcake to sleep had me randomly switching channels and what a find I stumbled onto.

The Intouchables, a french movie about an unlikely friendship between a rich quadriplegic and a reluctant caregiver. That the one is the black and the other white is just incidental to the story. The movie goes beyond race into something more simple and rare.. a true friendship that transcends social class and physical disabilities.  And what could have been a maudlin fare full of drivel and sniffling characters  instead becomes this extraordinary story served on a refreshing platter of honesty and humor.

This hilarious, heart warming flick is easily on my top 20 movies to watch on those Moody Blues days.

And it set off another train of thought.

How friendships (not the I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine kinds nor the I-need-your-help-else-I-don’t-remember-you type kinda ho-hum friendships but those that are tried/tested & stand true) are struck in the most unlikeliest of places with the most unlikely of people.

Unlike family you can chose your friends.

And most often we end up choosing friends based on mutual interests, networking opportunities or associations. Nothing wrong really. But then gauge the quality of these friendships against the random ones with whom you can just pick up a conversation or the threads of that friendship after a long separation like you were never apart. With whom you can talk endlessly about nothing and yet come away satisfied like you have just unlocked one of the mysteries of life.

Friends with whom you just struck a rapport not based on any of the commonalities but the differences that made you seek the other.

How these friendships are like that first cuppa coffee on a Monday morning that helps kick start the day.

How these friendships are like those old comics you go back to long, long after you have outgrown them.

How these friendships help you revel in your quirky individuality and not let you be another face in the crowd.

………..

Being open to the endless possibilities of life and being aware in the moment is one sure way to strike such unlikely lifelong friendships.

Live in the now.

You are bossy

Nearing an important milestone number wise I no longer accept the tried and tested. What works for you may not necessarily be right for me. I have my beliefs, value system, ideas and dreams and I’m no longer willing to let go.

As a woman, one is generally told to tone down the voice, sit with legs crossed, cross the t’s and mind the dots when in conversations, never ask but request, always value relationships over money even if it means you may end up a doormat, children over career, yadayadayadayadayayadada.

You think this are old fashioned thoughts and no longer the case.

Hmm.

Think again.

Case 1:

Watching the latest episode of this English song-based reality show featuring Indian singers on one of the newly minted channels brought all these common generalities to fore.While the program provides a terrific platform for singers to showcase their talent, it also brings out a lot of old fashioned prejudices that still exist.

PYTs in totthering heels and dodgy makeup but poor vocals are always given a Thumbs Up by most of the male judges if said PYTs swing ‘foxily sexy.’ Ordinary girls with power house voices are given the go bye. The guys are soley judged on the performance and attitude. Say what?!

The theme for the particular episode, which sent a chain of never-ending thoughts go klutching klutching, was Saturday Night Fever type va-va-voom songs. Now this obviously meant a lot of swagger and sex appeal.

While most of the male contestants were unapologetic about their attitude and oomph and even reveled in compliments about their risque shining through the performance, some of the girls were clearly embarrassed to be told by the judges they were sexy or hot. In fact, one of the contestants remarked, “My ears are ringing right now,” and looked like she was ready to be swallowed by the nether world.

And this when she was wearing a short, cross-back style dress and looked set to party and be the wild child.

While the male panelists on the judging panel complimented her on ‘her moves’ the female panelist asked, ‘Why are you apologetic about being sensual? What is wrong with being sexy if you own it?’

Case 2:

Time for the usual annual review and this mid-management level female marketing executive decided it was time for her to voice her concern about the poor hike doled out during the mid-term, poor compared with her male peers from the same department, and those that she felt had done far less than she.

She requested for HR representation at the table as well besides her immediate supervisor who was conducting the review. She came armed with stats and examples of her outstanding performance. She gave the reviewing board examples of her ‘beyond-the-call-of-duty’ in several of the exhibitions and client meetings she had been a part of or lead. 

This approach helped her get a better hike and a letter of public commendation from the company chief executive.

However, during an unofficial chat with the HR person she was told that she had a dominating, bossy personality that unsettled male colleagues. There were no asks but the comment was casually flung into the conversation.

Imagine her reaction after.

Case 3:

A senior female sales executive decides to return to the workforce after taking a hiatus from work after the birth of her baby boy. Now that the boy had turned five and was settled into a regular routine attending school she felt ready to tackle the workplace, and accordingly had upgraded her skills sets. While she felt reasonably confident in handling job pressures, it seemed the companies were not ready to accommodate her. Casual questions about how she was going to deal with pressures at work after being off the grid were thrown her way along with the support system she had in place.While some companies were willing to take her on they were unwilling to match her salary with the previous job she held. Other companies were sceptical about her intention to take on full time work. 

She finally gave up the idea of seeking full time employment and opened her own consultancy, providing sales services for generating leads, market intelligence, business analytics and digital support.

Though she is doing well now the attitude shown by companies threw her off kilter especially in the light of a chat she had with one of her male proteges who had taken a few years off to pursue his passion. He went backpacking around the globe and became a volunteer teacher in several of the countries he visited to fund his trip. Instead of showing scepticism about his intention to return to the work force the interviewers felt he brought international exposure to the table.

Three different instances but each instance still highlights the glass ceiling, visible and otherwise, that women in the workplace have to break.

Having been through a maternity related hiatus recently I can tell you the ceiling exists for real but it is not unbreakable. If you prepare yourself to break this glass ceiling with a sledge hammer, if need be the wall is yours to be broken.

First, FIND A MENTOR – Do not wait till you are into a few years into your career  or in the mid-management level to find a mentor. Read HBR’s 10 Must Read Titles including On Managing Yourself and Your first 90 days at work for invaluable tips on building your career and choosing the right type of mentor who can be your guiding light.

If you are lucky your mentor may chose you seeing the potential you have to shine. But most times you have to actively seek a mentor to help you navigate the corporate minefield before it becomes your playground. Chose wisely.

Chose a mentor who understand your industry well or who know the role you are currently executing and who is a leader in that field.

Chose a mentor who will help you align your personal value system with the needs in the corporate sector.

Your mentor can be categorised as technical, a life coach or a strategist depending on what you need.

Be a Mentor yourself. Chose a protege(s) who you can groom in your chosen field. Mentoring another person opens your eyes to the possibilities there are of doing things differently or better as you see the same humdrum stuff/routine through a new prism.

……….

(To be continued)

In the Meanwhile, take time to read this fabulous article… It is as much relevant after 40 as it is in your early 20s.

Have a great week !

Post partum depression or lack of expression

5 months post delivery and I’m still reeling from the after affects of this whole ‘pregnancy’ not-so-glow-but-very-very low thingie.

I sit down to write and a vast canvas stares at me, ridiculing me in my hazy state where the right words don’t spring out as they would have sprung earlier.

I talk to people and have a vast deal to opine about, i’m an opinionated women, but there are plenty of ahem, pregnant pauses, before the right word or phrase comes in a hasty rush – often the wrong one at the wrong time or I just look blank, panic stricken wondering where the very expressive lady of yore has disappeared to.

My physical blotches are slowly disappearing but mentally I just seem to have one huge blotch of nothingness.

Trying to read at warp speed, digesting the words and trying to regurgitate later isn’t as easy as it used to be.

I’m in a perpetual state of brain freeze.

Life comes a full circle

After all that waiting my express delivery finally arrived….. Healthy and kicking in full gusto.

A baby Boy.

wee bit disappointed since it was a gurl methot all along.

but the lil termagnet already has the whole house wrapped around his teeny fingers.

and lo my world as i knew it has changed.

the kindle gathers dust as the NYT best sellers await my return

the oven lies unused. the fragrance of grilled chicken and cakes replaced by his poopy and his indescribable body scent which even beats the fragrance of the first rains on wet mud.

where an earthquake couldnt rouse me a whimper does

i’m no longer the subject of an envious sigh accompanied by a snide ‘look at her sleep, the sleep of the innocent’ …..

i’m on my bed listening to the sounds from the cherub…heavy breathing, a gargle, a snortle, gentle gurgles

i watch him for signs of hunger and get his pouts and smiles, eyes still closed

a coo

i pick him up to nurse him, wonder if he’ll be thankful for being born or ungrateful for the life given

i wait for his eyes to shut but see him explore the world with round, wondering eyes and a thoughtful frown.

i walk the night

warmth lulling him to sleep

i do what millions of mothers do around the world

what generations of women did before me transgressing continents and culture

i do what women will continue to do long after i’m gone

i’m a mother now

i have come full circle

Short Selling

“I don’t know much.  I’m just a housewife. I’m a mother. I haven’t done anything but cook, clean and take care of you and yours.

I have zero talent.”

And went conversation.

The never ending conversation remained the same. Endless, meaningless talks with no one to argue against her.

Her children had settled down. Her husband had taken up a part-time job as a consultant to beat the monotony of watching endless news debates, empty walls and silence.

She went on long walks in the evening. She opened her mouth to talk to her husband of oh-so-many years but she had lost track and touch with what made them special.

Her kids had moved on to busy lives of their own. A call, a message, a whatsapp forward – their endeth the conversation.

Young couples in the apartment they stayed in looked at the couple with envy and a sigh. Ah, companionship. If we get to that stage of life with a beatific smile. We have arrived they thought.

She was that sprightly 50+ lady, vivacious, gracious and zestful.

If only they knew.

The loneliness.

The lack of self worth.

She opened a tattered cardboard box and pulled out earrings she had made from shards of glass. They glimmered in the sunlight throwing multi-colored diamonds on the wall.

She pulled out the little trinket she had made for her daughter and smiled. Her daughter had worn it for a week before discarding it for another trinket she had created.

The doorbell rang.

“Hello Aunty, we are having a yard sale. Do you have anything you would want to give us? ” smiled the 18-year old girl and her friend from next door.

She turned around and saw the box with all the earrings, trinkets, bracelets and other accouterments she had made over the years. She invited them inside and sat down looking at the box. Abruptly she gathered the scattered items and stuffed them into the box, silently handing it over to the girl. The earring fell out which the girl picked up in wonder.

“Oh my God Aunty. Did you make this? Could you tell us how? Do you have more of them?”

She smiled and nodded her head.

“No beta, these are very old. I made it for my daughters but it doesn’t hold any value now.”

The girl stared at her friend, thanked her and left.

She sighed.

Another part of her had been cut away.

She began to tidy up and begin preparations for the evening dinner. Not that they ate much now. A simple repast of roti and sabzi with some salad was all that was needed. Yet, she found comfort in the ritual of kneading the dough and rolling out the rotis to put them on the tava and watch each roti fluff. How her daughters would gaze in wonder as they saw the roti fluff over the stove. “How do you do it Maa? You must teach us too.”

The doorbell rang. She was surprised. Her husband never came back this early.

She washed her hands and scampered towards the door wiping her hands on the kitchen towel.

She switched on the  lights and peered out of the window. It was the girl next door with someone.

She opened the door and looked inquiringly, “Yes beta?”

“Aunty, this is my friend. He has a boutique and an online store that specialises in handicrafts. I showed him all the trinkets you gave us for the yard sale. He wanted to speak with you.”

“Hello Aunty. I’m delighted to meet you. When I saw the trinkets I knew I had to meet the lady who made it. You wouldn’t believe me but there is a huge demand for products like this, especially among the younger generation.”

She looked on in disbelief before saying, “But beta…..”

“I understand Aunty. You must be busy with all the housework. We can look at small orders at first, and then when you are comfortable you can start sending us more volumes. I would also like you to meet two NGOs we support to teach this craft to the women who come there. If all this sounds too much, we can take it a step at a time. But please, please say yes.”

“I have no talent you know,” she began but the girl and her friend took her hand in their own, and smiled.

User Manual: Your Body

So after the dreaded first trimester finally passed I summed up the courage to tackle my fear.

Will my body be the same ever again?

Now if you aren’t a woman or a ubersexual or metrosexual male you just won’t get this obsessive compulsive disorder we women suffer with body image, and usually a bad one.

After tiding over blotched, acne-ridden face and baby fat all through the teenage years to gain some semblance of self confidence well into my late 20s and early 30s (so sue me I’m a late bloomer) my body was finally something I was proud to own.

No I wasn’t still into the ‘my body is a temple’ phase but I was confident enough to wear a swimsuit to show all my curves in its glory, flaunt hot pants (tho’ I don’t claim to own a Kim Kardashian kaboodle) and lounge about in PJs without listening to the voices that inhabit my world.

Ah, I revelled in being a woman.

I was unsullied by the ugly stares, the groping hands, the hoots and the whistles.

After all, if dogs barked would I clamp them with muzzles or ignore them.

I was free to be me.

Wild, Free, Beautiful, Curvy, Independent, Wilful, Boisterous, Careless, Smart, Goofy, Whimsical, etc etc…

And then kaboom…..

I was bloating

I was swelling up

I was cranky

I was hypersensitive

I was ultra emotional

I had weird tastes

I hated myself

I hated the world

I saw a tadpole leering at me from the scan monitor. I saw an alien taking shape living and breathing inside of me. I saw what looked human roll about and wave.

I was caught.

My swollen belly held a miracle that no amount of science could explain. I was overwhelmed for perhaps the second time in my life!

So I get tightness in my rib cage and spend sleepless nights, tossing and turning, my belly cramping at times, my legs swollen, my face looking like a bee-stung disaster, back hurting, standing hours on end to have a normal work life, not giving into my sweet tooth (the worst), eating fruits (even worse) and gorging on greens (better).

Biting into bullet sized vitamins, retching up (the leitmotif of my life now), jabbing myself with injections to prevent hypertension, monitoring consumption, no consumption of alcohol…….is it worth it I wondered?

The net is filled with articles on what to expect week-by-week and month-by-month but it doesn’t prepare you for the reality of it.

I looked around and life was just the same for everyone else except of course the mater who couldn’t but up the care and concern (God bless her). Friends had their lives, holidays and concerts were a part of the normal life; mid night calls and mid night rendezvous still happened, catch ups did as well. I was out of it all.

No amount of empathy can prepare you for the vile bile that rises with rapid regularity every single morning for the first three months and more.

No one tells you about the overwhelming gratitude you feel about being born a woman to experience this phenomenon or prepare you for the anger of having to suffer alone and making you wish men were seahorses. But then it would mean mankind as you know it would cease to exist. Does a man have the patience to suffer through even if he does have humour?

My clothes don’t fit anymore.

I have taken to tracks with a vengeance and stoles too.

Ah, I also discovered I do have a sense of humor for days when things go really wrong, when hemerroids and back pain make you wring and grin like this is something you enjoy in the due process of motherhood; when nightmares haunt you about your state of readiness to be a parent; when news alerts tell you about yet another rape or molestation; when you wake in a sweat to realise this is for real…………………………………… you turn around and you listen to the other half snore, turn around and take you in the arms, you smile.

After all if it were the other way around, you can bet your last rupee or dime or whatever currency you trade in,  woman you would have been up all night nursing the baby carrier (your other half) through all that angst.

So cheer up I say, celebrate being a woman.

SMILE.