Me against Myself – My WOW weekend post

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It felt like I was breathing fresh air after ages! Last few weeks had only been about burning midnight oil, juggling stubborn numbers, making and tweaking reports and bowing down to the unaccommodating whims and fancies of our superiors, while additionally straining our sleep-deprived eyes from committing any unforgivable error. Thankfully, it had all paid off.

Agreed, there had been a few glitches along the way. The public showdown I had with Kavita last week was still painted fresh in everyone’s minds. I might’ve been slightly (Ok, majorly) at fault when I deliberately kept her out of the loop about a crucial client meeting, but she had called for it. She edited my work without consulting with me and didn’t as much as apologise for it later!

Anyway, to unwind after what could only be called a nightmarish schedule, our girl gang at work (sans Kavita, on my insistence) decided to dress up pretty and meet up for a quiet leisurely dinner at a newly opened Chinese restaurant in the vicinity. Assuming that a trip to the salon would take time, I left home early and wound up reaching before time for our dinner date.

The lovely ambience and the soft music playing in the restaurant made me forget that I was all by myself. I settled down on our reserved table and while sipping on my water started browsing through the crisp new menu looking for something innovative and experimental to try out. I might’ve missed it in my tranquil state, but the faint but familiar chime of metal bangles was tough to go unheard.

I surreptitiously looked around, only to find that my hunch wasn’t wrong. It indeed was the same sound that had gotten on my nerves a bit too often of late; the clinking of more than a dozen metal bangles that Kavita wore everyday. She was seated on a comfortable table in a secluded corner with a man I hadn’t seen before. Their body language suggested that he was probably her much talked about secret boyfriend.

They seemed to be having what could only be perceived as an ugly lovers’ tiff. In accordance with the surroundings, they took care not to raise their voices but it was apparent that all wasn’t going well between them. She was wiping her eyes and nose with a handkerchief while he kept saying something that ensured she didn’t stop. This wasn’t the Kavita I’d seen and known till then.

Just when I was trying to figure out what call I should take in such a situation, the man got up in a huff and left without bothering to comfort her or make her stop crying. Seemingly this wasn’t the first time he had done this, since Kavita didn’t look out for him even once. She appeared shattered. After some time in an unguarded moment, she looked around and our eyes met.

It was true that both of us weren’t in each other’s good books. Our paths had always crossed for the wrong reasons. Yet, the fact that she was sitting there alone without anyone to as much as hold her hand or hear her out made me sincerely empathize with her. I wasn’t feeling good about what I’d done with her and was at crossroads with myself.

Somewhere, my heart filled with a sudden warmth for her. Yes, she wasn’t the best colleague one could have. She was mean, arrogant and didn’t play fair. Come to think of it, I was someone on the same lines too. Was it that both of us had a different face to survive and grow in a hostile and competitive work environment, but deep down we were both vulnerable and emotional?

I didn’t take too long to ponder over this. Mustering some courage I walked up to her table, gave her my most earnest smile and said, ‘For everyone else, I didn’t see anything. Why don’t you come join me on the cool table? Our girl gang will be coming here soon. Hey, by the way, I need to ask you this. What’s the deal with so many bangles?’

She smiled and politely agreed. All else was forgotten. The good side, as always, had won over the bad one.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggersby BlogAdda.

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A One Night Stand with the Ex

I was the one who had called time on our relationship some time back. It is not that it wasn’t working out for me. If anything, it gave me the kind of pleasure one only identifies with something purely selfless and extraordinary. It made me feel complete.

Why then did I do what I did? Well, I got restless. I felt that this association was weighing me down. It was making me miss out on some other, rather tempting, avenues and luxuries that I had begun to develop a keen liking for. There were lots of greener pastures to be explored and embedded in my life.

It hadn’t been easy for me, what with his home being just around the corner and the possibility of umpteen chance encounters looming large upon us. Every time I passed from there my olfactory senses picked up the same unmistakable smell that made me go weak in my knees. It took all my might to not reach out then and there. 😦

There’s just so much restraint one can practice though! I’m human after all. I should’ve seen, even expected, this coming. This time around when I was passing by his home last night, I got summoned yet again and dropping all guards I went in.

The Ex: *Sadly* Glad you came. I was beginning to think you’ve forgotten me. 😦

Me: *Covering up my pent-up feelings* It is not that. You know my reasons, don’t you?

The Ex: *Understandingly* Yes, I do. But just as a matter of conversation, we can meet once in a while right? We see each other all the time. Why fight it?

Me: *Fumbling* Um, yes. We do see each other, but I’m not sure it will be a good idea to go back to what we were before.

The Ex: *Cajoling* Ofcourse we can. If you want it too, we can work out an arrangement where I can fit in your life without disturbing anything. Are you worried about A’s reaction?

Me: *Thinking* No, I don’t think A will have any issues with you. He knows how fond I was of you. As far as reviving the old itch is concerned, I’m sure he knows that sometimes we need to surrender to our natural instincts and cravings.

The Ex: *Sarcastically* What are we waiting for then? You are here, I’m here. We can, you know! 😉

Me: *Shyly* Yes, I guess you’re right. We do have an opportunity right now, but I have to go home. My kids must be waiting for me.

The Ex: *Naughtily* In that case, we can just grab a quickie. What say? 😉

And then, overcome by lust and triggered by passion I submitted myself to the long impending, delicious and utterly satisfying experience.

The strictly-on-diet and no-fried-foods-and-sweets-please me, had a Samosa! 😀 😀

55 Fiction – Friendship

She looked in his pained eyes. He seemed troubled and upset. She wished she had shown some restraint, but it didn’t matter now. They had to accept the truth.

Sweetly, she said, “Alright, I agree. I put make-up on you while you were asleep, took pictures and shared them on Facebook. It’s funny. Ask anyone!”.

My Sunday Date with #QuakerBowl :-) ;-)

#QuakerBowl, held at the J W Marriott Mumbai Juhu, was my fourth Indiblogger meet but I was as excited about it as I was for the first one! This certainly has something to do with the fact that the Indiblogger team knows how to make us bloggers feel welcome, encourages us to present our thoughts freely and ensures everyone’s participation in the event to make it an overwhelming success every time.

Planned on a Sunday morning, I bet this meet managed to get many lazybones give up on their pretty, beloved, beauty sleep! By the time I reached there a lot of bloggers had already arrived and were busy getting their caffeine and sugar kick. Ditching them both, I registered myself and rushed to find a comfortable table in the front to get a better glimpse of, ahem, someone special! 😉

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Our not-by-design ‘Ladies only’ table brought together bloggers from all ages and genres. Not only did we get well-acquainted with each other in no time, but also shared our blog urls and contact numbers happily. To name a few, there was Tina (also my travel buddy), sisters Prachi and Richa, Savitha and Sunita. No one had mentioned anything upfront, but there were hushed whispers on who the promised celebrity chef was going to be! 🙂

Anoop, as always, took to the mic and within moments had the complete attention of the whole audience. Again, as always, he made everyone get up from their seats and do some sort of warm-up to loosen their limbs and shake off the last remnants of sleep. The real surprise was however Vineet, who for once took the stage, complete with a gown et al and had Tahir Shah playing in the background. 😀

No Indiblogger meet is complete without an introduction from bloggers, and this was no exception. However, before curiosity killed the whole gang of cats there, soon the strikingly handsome Vikas Khanna was called upon in a deafeningly loud round of applause! He smiled heartily, accepting it all graciously and joined in. With this, the meet began.

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Vikas Khanna talking about nutrition and its benefits

Vikas has agreed to be a part of the PepsiCo team as their brand ambassador and stressed on the need for concentration on health and nutrition in India. Quaker Oats has been around for a long time, but with this association, together they’re aiming at creating awareness about proper nourishment and healthy options.

To insist upon the ease with which other ingredients can be replaced with oats in our everyday diet, Vikas involved us in interesting games and contests. The Q & A session and Taste the soup and guess the ingredients game had the audience in splits. The lucky winners got these beautiful gift hampers!

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Guess the Ingredients game…Vikas keeping tab with the stopwatch!

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The best part of the morning was the Create-your-own-recipe (name created by yours truly) contest. The audience was divided in teams and the teams had to prepare a dish using oats and the other ingredients provided along with. The dish was to going to be judged on two levels, obviously the taste and its Instagram-friendly appearance.

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All creations waiting to be devoured 🙂

Everyone did a good job. Our team would’ve won had there been a second prize.This one got the first prize.

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Our Dish!

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First Prize winning recipe

By the time everything wrapped up, it was well past 2 and the dense cooking aroma had many a stomachs growling. Over many more conversations everyone had a hearty lunch. Oats was used as the main ingredient in some of them too. Our takeaway was this totally useful cookbook and an oats packet.

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Lovely ambience, wonderful bloggers, talk on health and nutrition, interesting contests, and, the awesome Vikas Khanna! This should be enough to summarise the whole experience, isn’t it? 🙂

That’s not all though! With so much inspiration, how can I not indulge myself in some creative experimentation and prepare a signature Oats recipe, Varsh style!? 😉

Here it is! 🙂

Oaty Fruity Pancakes

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Ingredients:
1 bowl oats
Pulp of 2 ripe Alphonso mangoes
A bowl of finely chopped mixed-fruits (I used kiwi, banana, apple, black grapes, pomegranate and orange)
A pinch of salt
1 teaspoon powdered or castor sugar
1 teaspoon ghee
1 teaspoon honey
Dark chocolate syrup and grated white chocolate for garnish

Procedure:
1. Soak the oats in warm water for around 15 minutes and then make a fine paste of it in the mixer. Take this paste in a mixing bowl.
2. Add the mango pulp, salt and powdered sugar to it and make a smooth batter of flowing consistency.

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3. Heat a pan, grease it with ghee and make small pancakes with the oats batter. Allow them to turn brown from both sides.
4. Take the serving plate and decorate it with dark chocolate syrup. Place the first pancake on it and arrange all the fruits on it. Cover with the second pancake.
5. Pour a spoonful of honey on the pancakes and garnish with grated white chocolate.

Voila! Your tasty, colourful, healthy and tempting pancakes are ready! You can have them for breakfast or at hi-tea. From experience I know that kids of all ages will absolutely love it!

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I’m delighted to a part of this healthy initiative taken by @QuakerIndia in my own small way and wish them the best!

I’m the mother, I know better!

As a first-time mom I was paranoid and perennially confused. I scared easily and panicked at the slightest thing. I imbibed information from paediatricians, reference books, fellow mothers, family members, neighbours, (so, basically just about everyone) etc. about the dos and don’ts of motherhood. Like any mother, I wanted to make sure that my tiny tot got the best of everything!

Nevertheless, soon I realised that the more I sought others out, the more difficult they became for me. Everything I did was getting minutely scrutinized, compared, scoffed at and disapproved, sometimes behind my back and sometimes unabashedly in my presence. The fact that A Jr was born underweight didn’t help me either. And yes, people had assumed beforehand that I’m going to resign.

Our journey might’ve been a bit rocky, what with A Jr’s cough acting up a bit too often and me having to deal with the frustration of losing my financial independence and being in a sort of house-arrest, but we sailed through, all on our own! I learned to turn a deaf ear to people who advised incessantly. If anything, I presume it made me confident and prepared me for motherhood the second time over.

Right from the time I was in the labour room I was well-informed, better prepared and most of all, not at all nervous. My regular walks and rest-only-when-you-feel-tired routine made sure that I had normal deliveries both times. I was in control of myself and Angel. Yes, I got all mushy about her but I also insisted on instilling in her habits, like drinking from a bottle, that A Jr never caught on.

Incidentally, the interesting thing about advice is that it finds its way to you, whether you seek it or not! So, again, I had every other person recommending some particular massage oil for Angel or some special flour to give her bath with, apparently because she was a girl and had to be fair, beautiful and have a flawless skin. I would like to add more, but this topic is for another post.

I do have to share this one particular thing that’s been distressing me. When Angel was younger, I kept her at our neighbour’s home when I went to pick and drop A Jr from school. She’d be asleep most of the time so I didn’t have to worry much. Furthermore, the lady is kind and helpful and took good care of her. Had it not been for her I would’ve had a real hard time handling things alone.

Anyway, this lady went to her native for a month or so when Angel was about 9 months old. Till then we had carried Angel around in a Kangaroo bag when we went out and she seemed comfortable in it. In fact, she liked it! I was a bit hesitant at first, but I felt I could take her with me on my Activa everyday, and I did. Long story short, the arrangement worked out well for all of us.

However, as we know, roses always come with prickly thorns. Everyone who saw me then and even sees me now, was and is, vocal in their displeasure. ‘How can you bring her out like this?’, ‘Why don’t you keep her at your neighbours’?’, ‘She must be so uncomfortable!’, ‘I wouldn’t do it if I was in your place’, etc.

Recently, she was all dressed up pretty for a party and I was aghast when I got this, ‘Poor baby, it is summer and look at the clothes your mother has put on you!’ (FYI, it was a sleeveless white top and a frilly pink skirt). Such pearls, and more, keep coming to me with upsetting frequency.

I wish I could give them a solid dressing down, but I know it’ll be to no avail. These hard-skinned people simple don’t get the meaning of ‘No interference please!’.

All I can say to them is, ‘I’m the mother, I know better!’.

Shift…Move…Home!

We have to move for the fourth time in last ten years, and boy, am I bugged! The funny part is that I haven’t even finished unpacking since we moved last, which was just over a year ago. It is unfair that people (here, flat-owners) in Mumbai give absolutely no consideration to the fact that renting out to a family with two young kids comes with certain responsibilities. :-/

Everyone had the same story, selling off the apartment to buy another one. I’d like to believe we were their lucky charm*smiling sarcastically*. Now, I can’t be mean to them since they did offer us to buy it first. Never mind the foolishly exaggerated price! A cramped 1BHK in a dingy area here costs more than a luxurious 3BHK in an upscale locality in my native! Get real, guys.

The property business has seen a slump for the longest time. It is a simple case of demand and supply. It has become difficult to make out where Mumbai ends and Pune begins on the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Everywhere you see concrete jungles are fast replacing forest areas with the remaining specks of mountains defaced forever. Did someone mention ecological balance? Anyway…

I’m a practical person, honestly. I don’t overlook the fact that this is a transient phase and none of these places were meant to be our cosy love nest. What does annoy me though is the non-optional effort that goes into making a place our home, trying to adjust within the available space and yet not having the liberty to choose stuff that will decidedly get ruined in transition.

There’s some respite this time round. Had it not been for A Jr’s school concerns we might’ve gone to some place closer to our home. Yes, our home! After hunting for more than four months for a place that was within our reach, was spacious enough and didn’t have doors or windows opening in someone’s living room, we finally found it. The place we’ll call our home, forever! 🙂

It overlooks a garden and a pond, high up enough to make me sit in the balcony for my afternoon cuppa tea to feel the cool breeze over my face. There’s clean and clear air everywhere. In my mind I already have my home ready, reflecting me (alright, us) and welcoming everyone with open arms.

There’s still time for us to get settled there though. I want it to have all amenities in place before we shift for good. Till then there’s a lot of stuff to be given out, donated or dumped, with a heavy heart I may add. However, I’m not lulling over it much. My love, my kids and our memories more than make up for anything, don’t they? 🙂

Is networking all that there is?

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Let me state beforehand, I’m not talking about social networking that we work hard on for increased visibility and promotion of our blogs, products or services. While it isn’t one of my forte, I presume it is an inevitable chore that does have a bearing on the goals we set for ourselves or our blogs. If monetizing them is what we want, well then, social media…here we come!

This is something else. While risking sounding like a dinosaur, I belong to the time when meeting up with friends meant raiding some non-expensive place and having a cutting chai or samosas while mentally calculating my share. Chatting with them implied being part of a group, giving a hi-five when we agreed on something and (in my case) frequently placing punches when we disagreed.

Not many people had mobile phones (I got my first phone when I was in the first year of M.B.A!) and internet had just begun to make its presence felt. So, fortunately, friends and conversations were real. We carried a camera with us to capture our moments but there wasn’t that pressing need to photograph just about everything!

I had few close friends who I largely depended on. All of us have skeletons in our closets, right? The demons that I battled on a daily basis were very well known to them and they were just an arm length away if I ever needed them.

Sounds rosy, yes? I don’t think so. Networking, as I found out later, existed back then too. I was just too naive to recognise it. 😦

Fast-forward to today. I find it equally amusing and saddening that professional and personal achievements, the freedom to let your mind and heart wander or the ability to cut-down ties can drive the same people to treat the same relations as an arrangement, an exchange. Where flaunting yourself works, well enough. Where it doesn’t, never mind.

While going through a personal crisis some time back, all this became crystal clear to me. I chose not to leave things to chance and seeked comfort from these people who had once made tall promises. Long story short, my friends list has gone through a never-seen-before refurbishment.

I have seen solid friendships that survived the test of time and don’t think that making a living can be a bailable excuse, especially when I can easily witness other interactions that are seemingly unaffected. Selective cold play is a cruel thing to do. Even more so, when it is completely uncalled for.

Does this mean that relations, even friendships, can be treated as mere bus-stops? Stand, wait, while away your time and when your bus arrives, bid goodbye and never look back? Do emotions have no meaning?