Monday, 29 June 2015

Reminiscence and Evanescence

Last Sunday marked Prantik's first birthday eve, post #SocialShaadi. And, the truth is first birthdays are always a lot of pressure! Apart from a few cute little things that I had picked up, some experience gifts like a spa, making his favourite - Appams etc. and some other electronic stuff, I hadn't done my usual heart-warming stuff like videos, photobooks, scrapbooks with messages from close friends and family - maybe I had set the bar too high early on and I was running out of ideas or maybe I had just lost my creative streak thanks to my ever-changing busy schedule - but obviously that's no excuse whatsoever! So, I tried to salvage the situation, by organising a surprise cake-cutting for him at 12, with his close friends over :) I involved Maa as well, who helped pick up the cake right under his nose, without him even suspecting we were partners-in-crime :D

So I got back post shift, right before midnight, put up the "Happy Birthday" banner, got the cake and candles out and patiently waited for the clock to strike 12. Knock, knock! Who's there!
Well, Prantik was obviously surprised and the look on his face was priceless :) And thus, he blew the candles, made a wish and cut the cake; Baba (Prantik's dad) joined the celebration from Pune, via FaceTime Video.

I had an early morning shift or so I thought! And while on the MRT, I realised my shift wasn't on until an hour later! Damn! I could have slept an hour longer :S Anyways, the ED consultants let me hang around and started my patient queue early and it doesn't end there. They even went to the extent of giving me patients early on, so I could sort them out early, finish my shift on time and get home to celebrate my husband's birthday with him. Wah! I was so touched - and excited at the same time! Mixed emotions. Pran and Maa, in the meantime, visited a nearby temple to thank the Almighty for another beautiful year gone past :)

Later that evening, we had lovely dinner at Shahi Maharani, with close friends; with live Hindi ghazals in the background. One of Prantik's close friends, Shivanu, got them to sing "Baar Baar Din Yeh Aaye...Happy B'day To You!" while the restaurant staff, brought Pran a candle mounted on Gulaab Jamun;  so Pran got to make a birthday wish yet again :) and then they very kindly took a group picture. But what was even more impressive was that they got an instant print of it and presented Pran with an artistic, personalised photo-card wishing him well on his birthday - that I must say, was neatly done! And totally won them brownie points! That said, I must add I really enjoyed the food as well - right from the Chicken Tikka starters to Mutton Keema curry, Kofta curry etc - and their Roomali Roti was soft and well-done. So, I ate to my heart's content while enjoying the ghazals from days of yore; One from not so long ago, "Hoshwalon Ko Khabar Kya..." is one of Prantik's all time favourites and they sang that on request - so awesome:)

The next day, was another early start. I got home in the evening and chatted with Maa; and then we headed out with Prantik for dinner at one of their long-time Pune friends place. Fun conversations ensued and I must say, that the group's joviality was infectious and the feast was obviously delicious - especially some of their specialities. What was endearing was to see their Indonesian helper beaming and hugging Maa after discovering that Maa could speak Bahasa Indonesia. Maa has always been the kind and simple, all-loving person for as long as I can trace back - Yeah! I knew Maa even before I knew Pran :D For Maa, was my Bharatnatyam dance teacher when I was only 5yrs old - haha! The transition from Ma'am to Maa :P It was so heart-warming to see how Maa was sharing photos from the dinner, with Gina (the helper)via Whatsapp. Damn cool :D

I had a mid-week off which I spent chilling at home during the day, with Maa. It was so much fun listening to stories from Pran's childhood and his obnoxiously naughty deeds! (A part of me has begun to wonder if and when, we do have a kid of our own, how crazy he/she is going to be thanks to wonderfully eccentric set of genes!) That afternoon, Maa and I set out on our shopping date to IKEA. We picked up a few things for the household, while also getting lost in the meandering aisles :D and later, had some mushroom cream soup and chicken wings at the IKEA restaurant. We called it a day by watching ABCD2 with PranMaz.

I had a Thursday night shift, so that morning I was decluttering photos on my phone and I spotted some nice clicks from our Lombok honeymoon - Such a lovely, care-free holiday that was! Got me planning our next getaway ;) Yes, I never stop dreaming and planning :D
I got home Friday morning and crashed, after breakfast with the family. That evening was our spa-date. So we indulged in some much-needed body massage and relaxed...Simple pleasures of life - one that money can buy! But of course, most pleasures cannot be bought :)

Later, we joined the Happy Tribe at Float at the Bay, to celebrate Happy Marketer kickstarting their 7th year. We cruised along the Singapore river, taking in the beautifully lit skyline and even enjoying the laser light show. There's something so quaint about the river water at night; one could just float, underneath the cloudless, starry sky and pleasant breeze... In the vastness that surrounds and encompasses us, one does feel like a speck of dust in this big, fat universe! But that's how surreal it is to be amidst nature.

Saturday morning, depsite being the weekend, was unexpectedly busy. Maybe we were short on manpower but oh well - Every shift ends! So, meanwhile, Hakuna Matata! :D Maa and Pran picked up some groceries and I made Basil Pesto Quinoa Pasta with saute'd vegetables for dinner.
Unlike usual Sundays, Pran had an early cricket game to be at and I too joined #ActiveSG and played Badminton, after what seems like ages, with the Strathmore folks and their friends. It felt so good, it's difficult to describe in words. Can't wait for the next session!

Prantik got back by afternoon, after a victorious friendly-game, prior to which I was chatting with Baba, and planning out our travel itinerary. Much fun!

A week of birthday and anniversary celebrations.
A week of meeting new people and creating new memories.
A week of reminiscence and the poignant truth of evanescence.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

"Dil Dhadhakne Do"

Last Sunday evening, mum and I were enjoying my favourite waffles with salty caramel ice-cream, and coffee with one of my friends, Prerna at R.O.D. - Infact, she's the one who introduced me to this place :) And then she very kindly dropped us at the 100AM NTUC Finest where we picked up some more Milo and Mie Goreng for the brother :D

Monday night shifts at ED are dreadful :D It begins itself with 50+ lodgers - who are basically patients who have been waiting all day for a ward bed! I haven't quite understood why it is that Mondays are our busiest days! Slowly, yet gradually Tuesdays and Wednesdays are following suit and there seems to be no respite even over the weekend! I've often wondered, how is it that in such a small country, there are so many people and so many sick people! Wahlau! (This being the Singlish  term for Oh! My God! :D)

But every shift ends, and there's bright sunshine or an occasional rain shower to greet you in the morning post a tiring night shift. However, unlike most post-night days, I wasn't particularly looking forward to this Tuesday. Mum was flying back that night. I relived all the fun times I had with her and how it was so amazing to have her around. I've no idea what mothers are made up of - they seem to be a different species altogether - for only they are capable of such unconditional giving and loving <3 And this is such a universal phenomenon, I've often questioned if I would ever be capable of love of such divine quality...Time will tell, or so I tell myself :P

So, later that evening, Mum and I headed to the airport; the check-in was smooth and quick, and we treated ourselves to some lavish Thai dinner :) The iced lemongrass juice is so refreshing - it almost makes one smile, if you'd let it :D I FaceTimed with dad, to tell him, that if I could choose, I'd keep mum here :P but I was being a bigger person, and sharing her with him! Haha! Yes, often, I'd like to be a kid and say silly things and laugh with the family :) For these moments are priceless...

I got back with a heavy heart obviously, for farewells are never kind on the heart; but I consoled it saying, the airport would be warmed with hugs with the husband and later the mommy#2 soon enough :) Early next morning, I enjoyed the morning calm on my way to the airport to pick Prantik from his 3-week eventful U.S.A. trip. #MoraPiyaGharAaya

Pran, glad to be back home was happy to see the small new additions to the home decor; and he was  brimming with  excitement to show all the gifts that he had picked up for me, us, family and friends :) He has always been the thoughtful, caring person and I can't love him enough for that. So I sat right in the centre, as he pulled out all the packages, one by one :D at the end of which, I was surrounded by heaps of interesting stuff, including a pack of cards and rolling dice from Vegas! :)

Later that evening, we treated ourselves to some Gold Class tickets to Jurassic World at Golden Village. We sat back, stretched our legs, had some good food and enjoyed the evening.
Next evening, post work, we just chilled at home and watched Scandal season 4 which was finally on Netflix :) so yaay! Pran was still recovering from his jetlag so we called it a night earlier than usual, while listening to John Legend's "All of Me".

Friday was another early morning, racing the dawn to the airport yet again, to welcome Pran's mum, my mommy#2 :) Maa (Amma is my mum, Maa is his mum :D) liked our nice high, windy apartment - we welcomed the sun's first rays with coffee and some chivda, while eagerly planning our next India visit during Durga Puja time :) I headed off to work - and while at NUH, I was uber touched to receive a note of genuine appreciation and an apple! I was certainly overwhelmed to say the least...We chilled post-shift at the mall next door, over some Green Thai chicken curry. #TGIF

The weekend was here - it doesn't really matter for people like me who work shifts, even over the weekend :P but the occasional off over the weekend means full-on masti time to catch up with family and friends! So we headed to the movies - Dil Dhadhakne Do. (Yes, my second time :D) It was fun, yet again - last time, I had mum to laugh out loud with, and this time, I had Pran's boisterous laughter for company:D

Following which, we took the MRT to Marina Bay Sands. And, being a constant Circle line commuter, I strongly advocated that the yellow line would be faster than the red line, despite it having an extra station - so the bet was placed! And I was off on the yellow line, while Maa and Pran continued on red line to check out the truth for ourselves - yes, Pran and I do silly yet funny things :D Fine! He beat me by a fraction of a second - but he got off at the wrong ticket tapping exit :P So-I win! Muhahaha :D

Maa joined her long-lost friend from Indonesia for a stroll by the gardens - while I treated Pran to some high tea at TWG. We tasted some Darjeeling tea infused ice-cream as well - which was a first! And boy, was I pleasantly surprised :) Will definitely try their other flavours next time :)
We then, met the friends' gang at Lau Pa Sat and had dinner under the historic building, catching up with Arpit who was visiting for a few days. We did stop by at Magic Carpet to groove, but it was rather too crowded for our liking and we retreated our steps much earlier than we had planned...

Lazy Sunday was here soon enough and we just lazed on the couch, watching our wedding video :D It's still so heart-warming to see all the joy-filled moments of our wedding and all the lovely people who coloured our wedding in beautiful shades of fun, love and blessings :)
I enjoyed helping Maa with the lunch, and then I headed to work while Pran and Maa went to the beach to chill...

A week of farewells and welcome home's.
A week of getting back to being a "couple" in the same frikking time-zone :D
A week of more mommy love and mom-in-love :)


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Count your blessings

Last Sunday evening, I was enjoying mini Magnum with mum, while enjoying fun conversation with the Bangalore boys - dad and bro :D As much fun as it is to have mum over, I obviously miss them too. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping we can all be together on my 25th b'day. One might think, I'm crazy - but maybe, it's just an excuse to get the entire family together, again :)

The week had primarily evening shifts, which gave me full mornings with mum. And Singapore, was showered with cool rains so the mornings were rather pleasant - The perks of staying on high floors, with a view! :)

Mid-week, I had a standby day - luckily for me, no one called in sick so I could spend all day with mum! What a splendid shopping spree we had :D Our first stop was at IKEA in the morning. Their showroom display is so tempting; I distinctly remember texting Pran, at many occasions, and he'd say - you earn! Go ahead and spend it :D Muhahahaha! Just the thing I needed ;) I did pick up a few small things, for the kitchen and the living room. I even got home a potted money plant :) We've always had one at our Bangalore home, so it seemed like one of those simple must-haves that define our cosy homes!

I did run to my workplace for a lecture by Prof, post-lunch. After which, I caught mum on the MRT and then we headed to VivoCity. It's been 9 months in SG, and I could still get lost in that mall! But I frequent that place more often than other malls, so, I surprisingly have taken a liking to it... We were there to pick a PS4 game for Rohit, my younger brother; we ended up picking a few t-shirts for the guys as well, while enjoying Australian Boost sorbet/juice.

As funny as it is every time I hear it, the truth is, if you're Indian, no visit to Singapore is complete without a visit to the you-name-it-you-get-it Mustafa centre! :D So we found ourselves, manoeuvring around the many lanes and shelves; and picking up some groceries, baking stuff and yes, some Milo for the brother! The brother meanwhile, was enjoying his week, out with his friends, trekking to different heights. His music scene looks promising too - with him lending his voice for another band as well. Couldn't be more kicked! (Mental note: Pick up more Milo!)

Later that evening, we watched an English movie on TV - You Aren't You. Starring Hilary Swank and Emmy Rossum, it showcased the bond between an accomplished pianist/career woman bogged down by terminal illness; and her care-giver. It was soul-stirring and touching; and served as a reminder as to how, life could take a turn, anyday! So, all we really have, is today, rather now! So let's be grateful, have fun and laugh with the people we love :)

I enjoyed watching FRIENDS re-runs with Mum. Joey and Phoebe can tickle one's bones! And Chandler's sarcasm - can't not love :P I'd definitely miss watching these episodes, with her, while having our meals :) Mum's made a lot of my favourite Konkani dishes throughout the week - and I'd obviously lick my plates clean, after every meal! :D

The shifts at the latter half of the week went longer, owing to many more patients and sicker ones too; I spent a few moments in silence to pray for the patient I had seen the previous evening; who eventually succumbed to severe infection. When I had spoken to his big family, little had I known that his condition would deteriorate so quickly, culminating in his eventual demise just 8hrs from then. Sigh! Working in ED works as such a reality check... Constant reminder to be kind, always.

On a complete different tangent - (yes, we do have to compartmentalise our lives, to be effective...) - daytimes were spent organising the cupboards etc with mum's help. I like things in their specific places, kept neat and tidy; yes, my husband probably suspects I'm borderline OCD :P but oh well! He must thank me for being detail-oriented - he gets to have birthday countdowns ;) which also, began this week :)

A week of shopping for home and family.
A week of being kind and having kindness showered upon!
A week of b'day countdowns and counting blessings. :)


Sunday, 7 June 2015

My favourite angel pays me a visit

Last Sunday, home-alone, I was FaceTime-ing with my newer set of parents - my in-laws. As heart-warming and fun as it was to be pulling their son's leg :P his absence during the call was striking. We were planning our next travel plans and India visit - excited much!

Monday blues did surface. And while, people were "liking" the previous blogspost, I was adjusting to the 12-hour time difference. And preparing myself to 2 whole weeks of mummy-time :)

Mum landed next day morning, and receiving someone at the airport is one of my favourite things in the world! Just hugging them and welcoming them home - so joyful! After a quick coffee mocha at Paris Baguette, we headed home. The canopy cover by the roadside is to behold. May I say I was thrilled that mum was impressed by how I had kept the house neat and oragnized ;) A child never drops the slightest chance to impress his/her parents :P

I had mum's special prawn curry for lunch! And the next day, which was Prantik and my half-year anniversary, mum made my favourite mango dessert! Am I lucky or what?
I also took the opportunity to introduce mum to some of my favourites around - Tom Yum soup, Thai raw mango salad, "Sanum" frozen yoghurt at Ilao Ilao, milk tea with lychees at Share Tea etc.

June 5th, marked World Environment Day; after class with Prof, headed out with Mum to the Jurong Bird Park. We were amazed at the sheer beauty around - the colourful birds and their peculiar habits, the freshness in the air; Nature never ceases to amaze. :)

We also managed to catch Zoya Akhtar's multi-starrer Dil Dhadhakne Do. Mum and I had a good laugh; there was some good acting even though the story wasn't extra-ordinary; we did enjoy ourselves :) For in the end, good family time is priceless.

The week also witnessed the passing away of my secondary school Math teacher - she was a victim of a car accident; she was straight-forward in her teaching and simple in her living. The school lost a valuable asset while a family lost an invaluable soul. R.I.P ma'am; you'll be sorely missed.

Letter by a father who had lost his son in his early 20s in the US, was also doing the rounds, across news channels and social media. While at one end, it emphasized on letting children free and not pressurizing them to do things beyond their potential (though, most argue, potential is unlimited) - I think it was a good reminder to most parents who might have ultra-high expectations from their children and push them to pursue higher studies/work overseas; a lot of children might find it hard to adjust in a completely new culture and surroundings! Moreover, his 20-hr work days were tiring him out mentally and physically - as fate would have it, his son was a victim of a gruesome car accident.
Another story about how, life can change in the blink of an eye :S

The very fact that life is so mercurial and one never knows, what fate has in store for us round the corner, could be scary at one level; but it could also teach us to value life and live each day to the fullest. It's only imperative we live in the present moment, taking in every new breath we are blessed with. My way of remaining grateful is by doing my Sudarshan Kriya and it's such a beautiful experience to do it with my mum. Those minutes of focussed breathing and turning one's attention inward and of sharpened awareness are truly happy times! I follow that with a reading from the Ashtavakra Gita, which only adds to ones spiritual knowledge, reiterating the need to let go and just dance in the divine consciousness. :)

I had a night shift over the weekend; patients kept pouring in and there was no respite! We had some help with the doctors in the other segment of Emergency pitching in to help us - thankful for that kind gesture! But I guess, all of it adds up to the sense of fulfilment one feels on walking out post-shift, into the rain-washed morning. Heading home, to be welcomed by cool breeze and warm mummy-bear-hug - can I be happier?

Exhausted, I slept through the day, while mum enjoyed a Malayalam movie :)
Later, in the evening we headed out for a stroll at Gardens by the Bay. We were astounded by the variety of flora we were amidst and gorgeous vertical structures! And when the lights came on, they looked even prettier. There was even a special light and music show - Golden Rhapsody - which was so uplifting! To hear Alladin, Toy Story etc. soundtracks actually gave me a nice fuzzy feeling, reminding me of my own happy childhood :) We indulged in some Satay by the Bay and then traced our footsteps back to home sweet home.

A week sans Pran, spending quality time with my angel Mum.
A week of enjoying mum-cooked meals - finger-lickin' good!
A week of marvelling at Nature's bounty and being grateful for what we have :)


Monday, 1 June 2015

Marriage: A long conversation which always seems too short

Last Sunday, I was reading "NameSake" by Jhumpa Lahiri on my Kindle. The beautiful descriptions of life decades ago, with particular mention to the Bengali traditions/customs are very intriguing and heart-warming, to say the least. 'Twas the beginning of the last week prior to Pran (my husband) flying away to the U.S. for 3 weeks, so I decided to cheer him up after a cricket loss with some candles, 'Awfully Chocolate' dark chocolate truffles and some Bundaberg ginger beer! He obviously was taken by surprise and that evening ended with Mumbai Indians winning the IPL cup.

Monday marked 26 years since my parents' wedding. And they were on a short holiday at Pondicherry, with their younger child and my brother. Having been such a close witness to their marriage, I've learnt a lot from them and if anything, I'd like to emulate those values in my own marriage :)

Another weekday evening, my husband surprised me by coming home early from work! I so didn't expect that! He not only did the weekly grocery shopping (while I attended to some administrative work that I had at my workplace) but also treated me to some yummilicious 'Ilao Ilao' frozen yoghurt with fresh fruits and chocolate syrup! Didn't he just bowl me over?

The weekend was here soon enough and we were at the Esplanade theatre with our friends' gang to catch a Hindi play - Mera Woh Matlab Nahin Tha starring veteran actors - Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta; Rakesh Bedi as well in a cameo role. The play was well executed; with some nice, crisp dialogues. The acting by the trio was fabulous, as expected! T'was a lovely way to kickstart the weekend, indeed! We had some 'Max Brenner's' chocolatey drinks/pastries and then headed to the next stop for the evening.

The two of us have always liked heading to the theatres and watching movies together. "Margarita, with a Straw" was a movie I've been wanting to catch for quite some time, and it was finally showing in Singapore. So here we were. Unlike, other commercial films, this one didn't quite attract a huge audience but oh well! Glad, we could make it! It explored a sensitive topic - sexuality in persons with Cerebral Palsy; here, I must confess, even though, I've worked with children with Cerebral Palsy, the very thought of sexuality hadn't crossed my mind even once. I personally think, Kalki Koechlin displayed some brilliant acting; and if anything, her relationship with her doting mother, reminded me of my own...

The night didn't end there! We headed to Magic Carpet for a few shots and grooved to some desi songs including Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai?; Made in India :D It was so much fun! To dance like no one's watching and just celebrate with your partner, is awesome!

The next evening, we were at the "Kebab and Biryani Festival"  at Raffles Hotel for their dinner buffet. The ambience was nice and so was their service. The food, I must confess, wasn't extra-ordinary; but I must congratulate them for their choices on the buffet menu and not making it too extravagant! And well, we love our Indian food; so no complaints! We enjoyed the kebabs, chaats, biryanis, curries and not to forget the desserts. It gave us good time to chat and catch up with each other; and reminisce about #SocialShaadi - 'twas our half-year anniversary celebration in advance.
And as I basked in all the love and joy showered upon me, that week; I felt immensely grateful for having him as such an important part of my life.

He flew away to the U.S.A. early Sunday morning, but prior to that he made sure I had my favourite South Indian breakfast at Ananda Bhavan :D And when, I got back to an empty house - I realised 'twasn't home without him... The TV would be on with random cricket/TED talks/online tv series streaming... I'd be beseeching him to go have a shower :D... and nagging him to do all those mundane things :P but instead, he'd be on the iPad reading Harvard Business Review, oblivious to my nakhre. We'd have long talks and discussions about all things under the sun! There's always so much to talk about, to laugh about...what not!

In today's age, where Indian girls push getting married to a much later time; I've been asked if I thought I got married too early, at 24. But is there a right age to get married?! I am happy I got married to the love of my life, and my family and friends supported my life choice and decision. To have that one person, who has your back, come what may; to be able to share and care unconditionally; to understand each other even without the utterance of words; to be able to evolve and grow as individuals and as a couple; to have common dreams and goals, and persevere together towards them; I think is a blessing in the name of "marriage" - and the right time to get married, is when you feel so - no one can tell you that, except yourself. To each, his own :)

To many more long conversations, dear one! If not face to face, there's always FaceTime :D