Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Just Do It

~ 76 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~ 

Woke up early on Sunday morning
for my first ever run
(Only few hours since my last shift had ended)
To watch the rising sun

I was a tad bit nervous
for I was barely prepared
I was afraid that I might give up
Fall, without a soul to care

The whistle was blown
and the hustle began 
Some strolled, some jogged
Some others sprinted and ran

I stopped intermittently 
for a water break or two
Other runners kept motivating 
"You can do it - #Jiayou"

After a while, I stopped
keeping track of the kilometre
Running felt easy, almost dreamy
with soulful music plugged to the ear

The high of doing something
which you thought you couldn't
Finishing something a voice 
once said you wouldn't

Even though it was a not
a full length 42km marathon
To cross the finish line
did make feel like one had won

For the hardest battles
are not against folks outside
But with the nagging noise
that pulls one down from inside 

And so when one just does it
Without thinking too much 
You feel like nothing is impossible
if one dropped all the fuss

That one can love 
without fear of loss
and one can trust
without having to toss

That one can fight 
passionately for the sake of truth
and work tirelessly
without seeking any fruit

So next time, naysayers
cloud your thought
silence them with your actions
They'll then stare open-mouthed

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Easter Weekend @Penang

~ 77 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

The highlight of this week, after back to back evening shifts, was the Easter long weekend getaway to a Malaysian town - Penang. We packed our little suitcases and were off, on our first trip with our helper, Piya.

Here are my favourite 7, from our 2.5 day stay:

A: Art work - We had a ball of a time, on a treasure hunt for these street art murals. The barren walls of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Georgetown, with traditional shophouses galore, had life breathed into them when Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic commissioned such gorgeous, life-like art - there are even props such as bicycles and motorbikes in place, and such interactive art installations are deservedly tourist's favourites. What an amazing way to discover different nooks and corners of the town!

B: Batu Ferringhi - We spent an evening, gazing at the most gorgeous sunset at this beachside. We couldn't have gone to an island and not visited the beach - even Ayaan, is growing to be quite a beach person, much like us, so this evening was one of our favourites indeed. To witness the sky break out into such bright hues, was soul-stirring. We sipped on Choya, as we watched the sun being engulfed by the horizon afar.

C: Cozy AirBnb - We had picked this beautiful, centrally located AirBnB for our stay. We really had a good time, cozying up, with some 'Teh Halia' in hand, enjoying the sea-view, from the balcony. Mornings were spent watching the most beautiful documentary 'The Planet' on Netflix, with our toddler; while evenings, we'd just chill, cup-noodles in hand.

D: Delving into History - It was truly interesting to listen in to the history and the many stories that surround the Nyonya-Baba generation. Stanley, our English guide for the tour around the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, had so many fun anecdotes to share, and it was a pleasure to explore the corridors of the mansion turned museum, listening to his commentary.

E: Easter feels- Being Easter, we also visited the church, with our Christian helper; the Victorian styled facades, illuminated by incandescent lights, was truly serene. The bright big full moon, added to the glory of it all.

F: Food - The street food scene at Penang is buzzing, to say the least. We really enjoyed some delicious Peranakan food for lunch on our first day. 'twas a Good Friday indeed, gobbling up some local delicacies, served at the 360 Revolving Restaurant! One of the evenings, we also had Pakistani food (as fondly remembered by Prantik, from his previous visit) and it was all so yum!

G: Going uphill - One of the days, we took the funicular train uphill to the view point atop Penang Hill. It reminded me of the Sky Bridge at Langkawi, we had visited a few months ago. We spent late morning at the Kek Lok Si temple - while Ayaan was kept engaged by the many sculptures of turtles and the Chinese Zodiac animals, we were in awe of the big bronze statue of Kuan Yin and the many different kinds of Buddhas, influenced from Thailand/China etc. The view from the top was to behold indeed. The heights one would go to to get the spiritual kick ;)

All in all, t'was definitely a short and sweet trip, with food, culture and history galore.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Different kinds of Parents

~ 78 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

Now, ever since turning a mother myself, I've received a lot of advice and suggestions (despite being a doctor) and judgmental looks even, on how to look after and raise my child - I've also read quite a bit, and come across so many, many articles and books on child-rearing and parenting - it's often overwhelming! Now, add to this, having to witness so many other parents, while being a child-doctor (although temporarily!) - all, I really want to say, is "Calm Down!" Using this blog post to answer some of the oft asked questions - even if this helps one other parent, I'll be glad. Each one, reach one ...

There are mothers, who wish to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months (and continue longer) some who can't and stress about it, some who couldn't care and start with the bottle, some who keep trying anyways - well, Mama, all I want to say is you're doing your best and no one is going to judge you - so please do whatever is comfortable/convenient/feasible - you've every right to choose what's best for you and your baby. In the campaign of "Breast is best", there is no sense in losing one's sanity. Although I must add, if you keep at it, the supply gets better and auto-sustains - hence if it isn't hampering your mental peace, do carry on. You've got this! There is a huge business on baby bottles and each claiming it's just like the real thing (read boob) but nothing really compares alright and so, don't fall into this trap - just get any that's pocket friendly and make sure you sterilise them right, and keep your baby well fed! Tada!

On the topic of bathing, some choose to give oil massages - and then follows the debate on which oil is best; follow that by should the baby bathe in a tub or on your lap (like our mothers and grandmothers bathed us!)? Again, I'd like to stress that most important is to be confident and strong in your grasp of your baby - and making sure the temperature of the water isn't too hot for the babies' skin. Rest, is immaterial. Of course, if there's evidence that any soap/shampoo is taken off shelves for fear of being carcinogenic, you'd prudently avoid those right? 

Back to the topic of foods - There are some who start solid foods earlier, some wait until they turn 6 months - and then starts the what to feed quiz! It varies across cultures and hence, there really is no right or wrong. I was from South India and hence chose ragi porridge and then rice and dhaal, with mashed vegetables; I was also influenced by what's available readily at the place I live - so avocadoes featured as the little one's breakfast often. Also, we used bottled fruit purees and baby rice on our travels - super convenient and safe! Once, he was a tad bit older, he just ate whatever we ate - and the number of bags we had to carry reduced drastically - yaay!

Many parents choose to co-sleep with their infant (I prefered it as it was easy with the night-feeds); some choose a side-cot or even making their baby sleep in a different room right from the start - again, whatever suits you and your family, is recommended. There is no one right way. What's most important is the safety of your infant. So while, there are parents who actually buy oxygen saturation monitoring devices to check on the baby through the night, fearing 'SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)', I don't think most of the families, in rural India, would even be aware of it, leave alone being able to afford such a device!

When is the right time to travel with your baby? Again, I waited until he turned about 3 months - only because then my husband and I were more confident and accustomed to handling the baby given that the baby had neck control and was not just a floppy little blob of flesh :D Again, more important is to make sure you carry extra supplies, including any common medicines as well as are aware of health care services at the place you're traveling to (God forbid you need to visit one!)

Anyway, there are a zillion other topics and choices that once has to decide on at each phase of parenting and it's quite impossible to cover all of those! Infact the foremost decision is whether to even become a parent or not. The number of couples these days, choosing to go the DINK (Double Income No Kids) way is phenomenal. And yet, there are couples, who still want to have kids and experience the joy (and pain) of parenthood. Take, for example, a couple-friend of ours, who finally chose to adopt a little girl and give her a beautiful, secure life. I'm so proud and happy for them - and so I couldn't help but make and pick up a lot of little gifts, which I packed and sent with PranMaz on his surprise trip to partake in the celebration. 

So while I spent the week, witnessing the many kinds of parents I crossed paths with - it ended with a high indeed - to witness a couple-friend's family grow, and their home thus, being filled with a little baby's coos and babbles (and cries of course) - unbound happiness and smiles! Wishing them all the very best!! 

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Bittersweet musings (Ugadi special)

~ 79 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

This week, was yet another new beginning. I started my 3-month stint at the busiest children emergency in the country. I had done a posting earlier at the home-hospital's children emergency, but a new place always can be overwhelming and to get accustomed to everything new - right from the software to the infrastructure, the people, the culture - can be nervewracking!

Coupled with the pre-shift team-based learning sessions and evening shifts way past midnight, at 3am+ when I'd finally knock off, I would be so tired - and to be woken up before even 4 hours of sleep by a toddler, who wanted me to brush him, change him, drop him to school - whoa! One of the nights, I just crashed in another room, oblivious to my little one, so I could clock more sleeping hours!! So, clearly the week didn't start all that easy - but it did give me good time in the morning for myself and later early afternoon, to cuddle with my cutie, before rushing for work.

And so when, the weekend finally arrived - and I had a relatively easier day (still not a complete off day) - I invited the friends' gang over for FriYay dinner and drinks at home. I threw my stress out by mulling wine, plating cheese and cooking fine dinner (by my standards ;)). Also, did some home improvement stuff, like finally putting some photo frames up against the modernist world map, giving some breathing space to the many stuffed toys and finding a new spot for a creeper plant, and some fresh flowers to brighten it all up.

It felt good to catch up with the gang after quite a few weeks in fact; and just spend a chill evening under dim warm yellow lights, with soulful music playing in the background. 
After an initial shy period, Ayaan warmed up too and was in his best behaviour! So proud of this boy!

By the end of the week, I was settling in already. And while Prantik, held the fort at home, on one of my journeys back home, I realised that it really is all about perception. I was basing my stress on other people's interpretations and perceptions - I was told many a time, that this posting is busy, is 'hardship' and such - and I was matching my experiences, to others perceptions. But what I realised was that internally, I didn't really feel that terrible - and was only reflecting off others' experiences - which had to stop. Stress occurs when there is a mismatch in what is vs what it's perceived as, nothing a subtle paradigm shift couldn't fix. So while cooking, mulling wine etc was great to bust the stress, better still was to shake the very foundation on which that very stress was based and kill it from the root. I faced my shortcomings and my insecurities head on, and held my vulnerability on a platter - and felt perfect, embracing my imperfections. When one does that, the pressure lifts, one feels lighter and even performs better. I decided to put a fresh lens on and see sans tainted glasses. 

As the sun set over the first weekend of April, I fought the virus that the first week at the children emergency had blessed me with (literally and figuratively); yet, in gratitude, for the dawn of a tad bit of wisdom, traced my steps along with my favourite boys, to the temple at Little India, to thank the higher Force, for reminding me repeatedly that we're just a speck of dust, in this large Universe and that one mustn't give undue importance to the many events that occur in our lives-  be a witness, sure, but maintain one's poise nonetheless, stay grounded, stay rooted, living one day at a time, consciously, being present in the present moment. For like everything else, this phase too shall pass. But grateful, we must always be. 
Here's to accepting the bitterness and sweetness alike - happy Ugadi folks! 

Sunday, 7 April 2019

The Art of Living

~ 80 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

I did my 'Sahaj Samadhi' meditation course at the beginning of this week and I realised this would be the perfect time to recap my journey with 'The Art of Living' right from when it first began.

My tryst with 'The Art of Living' commenced when I was probably in grade 5 (as much as I can recall) - our school had arranged for us a unique session called "Art Excel" - it was during school hours, and as much as we liked not having to attend classes (*wink wink*), I remember thoroughly enjoying myself attending the session and taking baby steps into a new realm altogether. We were in Indonesia at the time, and my parents did their Basic (Part 1) course (which is now called the 'Happiness Program') around then too. I remember my parents doing what they called the 'Kriya' and my dad being thrilled that he could keep his antihypertensive medications at a good arm's length while continuing his Kriya practice. I wanted to get to do the Part 1 course too, but I had to wait slightly longer, until I turned 18.

As it so happened, I was walking around a park, with my mother one pleasant evening in Bangalore, chatting away, when we were stopped by a lady (whose face I definitely don't remember now), who handed us a pamphlet of an upcoming Art of Living - Basic course, happening not too far from home! I had just turned 18 and it seemed like the Universe had conspired for it to happen. I quickly registered for the same and so then that one week, I'd get home after medical school, and walk/take the bus to the centre for my Basic Course. The teachings were obviously nice, but the best take away was of course, the most beautiful "Sudarshan Kriya". I could finally join my parents during their practice and it made me feel all grown up too ;)

We moved houses, about 3 years later, and that is when we serendipitously met another AOL volunteer who came knocking at our door and thus began, another deep friendship. Mum suggested the weekly 'Satsang' rotation and thus kickstarted the every-Sunday evening Satsang sessions. Dad and I would love to discover and present new 'Bhajans' (devotional songs) and as more and more people joined the group, it turned out to be the musical highlight of the weekend indeed.
He turned teacher soon enough and we had weekly follow up sessions, on Saturday mornings conducted right within our apartment complex. Thus, our weekends were pretty much set.  :)

I delved deeper, when I was in my 2nd-3rd year of medical school. I joined my parents for the 'DSN' course. We had early starts and long days, but it was so worth it. There was a lot of yoga and meditation, and thus we learnt the "Padma Sadhna". Following the course, we had 5am sessions, listening to the "Ashtavakra Gita", followed by group Sadhna and Kriya, and then I would head to college at 7am, and head back after badminton/dance practices at 10pm, lugging my heavy bag, in an overly filled public bus, all smiles, not an iota of tiredness - that is how energised I felt, getting up at 4am and doing the practice. 

Another favourite course, was the Advanced/Part 2 course. I had just wrapped up my final exams and while the results were awaited, there was a short break, before our internship started. It was the perfect time, to go live at the Ashram and do the Silence program. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life, interspersed with songs, yoga, seva (service), silence, meditation, deep introspection, dance and surrender. I was charged and rejuvenated, to face the busy Internship year head on!

That year was also the year, talks around my wedding got broached. Prantik (my husband) and I had been chatting and our long-distance relationship had been going on for a while; and so, when at first I spoke with my parents about him, they weren't on board; however with time, they got around, and soon enough, we found ourselves at the Ashram, end-2013, being blessed by Guruji himself. Thus, kickstarted our wedding planning.

Getting married to Prantik, also meant I was to move to Singapore. The Ministry was recruiting doctors from India, and I dropped in my resume as well. On May 13, 2014, I had my interview with a Professor at NUH Accident & Emergency - I answered all his rapid-fire questions, save for 1, and was thus shortlisted! We (mum, dad and I) thus celebrated Guruji's birthday in peace, at the beach. 

For our wedding, as part of our Sangeet, we had renowned Swami Suryapada's (fondly called Chayanna) Satsang - his renditions of the songs can elevate one to a different level altogether. I danced in utter joy and celebration, clad in a pink Kanjeevaram sari, to everyone's favourite "Narayana Narayana". Such a blessed evening it was indeed.

After our wedding and moving to Singapore, I did have opportunities to attend conversations with Sri Sri, on a couple of occasions, during his Singapore visits. In the meanwhile, the younger brother did his 'Yes+' course (targeted at the youth), conducted by Bawa-Dinesh - who I was fortunate to meet too and meditate with by the oceanside, one blue moon night. The parents did other courses, like Sri Sri Yoga,Shakti Kriya, Sahaj Samadhi, Vigyan Bhairav, Unveiling Infinity and such - they even sang with the 'Alaap' choir at the Ashram and also participated in the World Cultural Festival (with the Indonesia AOL group) held in Delhi, in 2016. With the Bangalore AOL group, they've organised blood donation camps, spent weekends reviving dried up rivers and so much more. 

Fast forward to end-September 2016, while I was in labour, mum was meditating, silently, in the waiting room. Soon enough, our bonny baby boy was safely delivered. From day 0, he was lulled to sleep by his grandma, crooning "Nanda ke Laala". As part of the naming ceremony, the baby is given 5 names - one of them whispered into his ears by his maternal grandma was infact "SoHam". Mum stayed with us for a couple of years to help us with the baby - during my maternity leave, we would do our yoga and kriya together, or take turns if the baby was awake. On Ayaan's first trip back home, we indeed took him to the Ashram as well. 

Ugadi last year, was when we finally found our way to the nearest follow up centre in the West of Singapore. Thus, we became part of the ever-growing group - and started attending follow up sessions, on Sunday mornings (schedule permitting). Held in a beautiful home, of a teacher-couple, where the sun rays, fall on a young Guruji's picture, where the money plant creepers have grown around, over time - I wish my schedule could permit me visiting their abode on more Sundays - irrespective,  I'm very glad our paths met. He in fact held a 1-on-1 Sahaj Samadhi course, for me - and that was rather sweet of him, to accommodate my erratic work timings. And that was the highlight of the week. I would head for my lesson on effortless meditation, pre-or post-shift and go deeper into the world of the Self and transcend beyond. 
I am still a sincere seeker, an eager learner and can't wait to experience more beauty, more Grace, while diving deeper into age-old wisdom. I've made many friends and well wishers, as I treaded on this enriching spiritual journey - do join me if you feel like it, to experience supreme bliss and inner peace :) Jai GuruDev!

Monday, 1 April 2019

Celebrating Ayaan 2.5

~ 81 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

On March 26th, Ayaan turned 2.5 years old.
It's unreal the pace at which time seems to be flying - surreal more is to see how fast our toddler is growing up!

It's been 6 months since our fun trip to Tokyo and Kyoto to ring in Ayaan's 2nd birthday. I had written an emotional heart-felt poem at the time - on how I felt about weaning him off... 
Incredulous to just look back and see how far we've come since then!

I'm going to use this blogpost, to just recap some of the highlights from the last 6 months (not in any particular order) - sit back and enjoy reading, dear Ayu :)

1. Weaning off to the tumbler
A few weeks after you turned 2, we finally decided to latch you off. While it was tougher on me, because you had the bottle as an alternative - it didn't seem too traumatic on you - save for times, when I'd be back from work, and you were used to latching on soon after I stepped in (and freshened up) and you had to be abruptly deprived of that. Of course I would hug you tight and cuddle, and oft I would almost want to let you latch but your grandma and dad would strictly say "No!" and that I had to be stronger than that if I wanted to wean you off... Soon you adjusted; infact we found it harder to wean you off the bottle! But soon enough, you were kicked to just drink off a straw-bottle -- even more excited to hold your own little steel tumbler, and drink from it, on your own!

2. Joining playschool
Though infants and toddlers in Singapore, are enrolled in childcare much earlier, we waited until you turned 2 to send you to playschool. It took you just about 2 weeks or so to settle in, and we couldn't be prouder! We were let to stay in with you only for the first 3 days and after that you had to go in on your own. You did cry initially and heart-breaking though it was, we realised the longer we stayed around, the more time you took to calm and settle down. Your Mamama would drop and pick you up everyday, and days that I worked evening shifts, I'd come too - and to see your face light up on catching a glimpse of us at 12.30 pm - was simply wonderful! You enjoyed playing with the toys and listen to the stories and songs - special credit to two of the teachers, your favourites, whose laps you'd find refuge in, in a completely new environment and soon, things changed, and now, as an everyday routine, you take fresh flowers for your teacher(s) and they've come to expect it too from you everyday and if one day, if you didn't find any, they'd ask you about it! Now, you look forward to going to school, you say "Your friends are waiting for you!" Two girls (Viola and Olivia) from our own condo eased you in during your early days, and now, you are able to help newbies settle in too and know the names of all your mates - how endearing. We get regular updates on you and it's amusing to see what all you do in the 3.5 hours you spent there every weekday morning. Your precious art and craftwork have now become exhibits on our walls in our little "Ayaan corner"; you teach us new songs these days and we were completely bowled over when one morning you started singing "Majulah Singapura..." all in tune! You've in fact been on a field trip too to the Gardens by the Bay with your school friends; we also celebrated Chinese New Year and had some fun parent-child time with your fellow batch mates and their families, rolling glutinous rice balls together. All in all, we're really appreciative of the teachers for taking such good care of you and for teaching you at such a young age - you can also say the Chinese numbers, and pronounce them perfectly (I had to Google to find out what you were uttering in the first place!) - oh so impressive!!

3. Toilet training
We rarely ever have to wipe and change you out of soiled diapers now! You've a good morning routine and clear your bowels by habit, prior to going to playschool. You still aren't dry by day, but that has mostly us to blame - we've just not been around much to ensure that happens - but hopefully, we'll be able to achieve that in the next few months. Potty time is also your nursey rhyme singing time - for that's how your Mamama would train you :D And so, that ritual sort of continues. Be it ABCs, London Bridge, Baa Baa Black Sheep or Johnny Johnny - we go through many iterations of these.

4. Communication
This aspect I think, by far, beats all others. The amount you've grown in your verbal and non-verbal communicative skills is mind-blowing. So not only can you express so much more, be it affection by means of kisses and hugs, group hugs even or displeasure, by means of screaming etc, your vocabulary also seems to have grown manifold. You can speak in sentences (albeit a bit broken sometimes) and use so many big words now - from caterpillar, butterfly to orangutan & dinosaur -  wow! But the most enterprising is to see you use a few Konkani words (like 'Mogacho', 'Jaai', 'Kenle', '... Kartave' etc) with Mamama-Ajjo and Bengali words (like 'Muri Dao', 'Chool' etc) with your Dadu-Thamma! Maybe that is how, Prantik and I will learn each other's languages too ;) And now, maybe Mandarin too huh! You also throw in a couple of Hindi words that you would have heard us say in passing (like 'Chalo', 'Aa Jaao', 'Chaalu' etc) - such a parrot you are - and hence we really ought to be careful what we speak in front of you :D Like, you even copy the tone so well (like 'Nonsense', almost with a rolling-your-eyes tone :D aping me!)
It's been so much fun singing and dancing to songs too - especially the "I love you, You love me" Barney song. The long conversations we get to have with you these days, are simply wonderful, but more awe-inspiring are the emotions that are interspersed within - like when you'd fetch medicine for an under-the-weather parent, or empathise with me after a long shift and give me a tight hug and end with "Don't do hard work, Amma (pause) I miss you..." . One afternoon, I was tucking you in for a nap, you hugged me, and smilingly said "I want Amma to be happy :)" Such scaringly wise, yet supremely kind words from a toddler - had my heart brimming with such pride and joy!

5. Tantrums
It wouldn't be honest of me if I only spoke about all the cute stuff you do and missed on a major aspect of entering your "Terrible Twos" - the tantrums! So, as you've grown and learnt so much about yourself and the world around you, I can imagine how overwhelming it must all be, for a tiny little being, in a world so large - there have been tantrums, as you try and carve your own identity and individuality. There are days, you want to mix all the food, and feed all by yourself, some others you are adamant that I must feed you. Some days, you really don't want to fasten the seatbelt on your airplane seat, some other days, you're summoning everyone else to do just the same! Some days, you want only curd + sugar for dinner, some other days, you want more dosas and more butter and some more :D. Some days, you are fixed on wearing the exact same clothes you wore yesterday, "One Fish Two Fish" green tshirt and shorts, while it's still drying! Some days, you want to only use pens to colour; mix play dough with water; use your toy food processor, add water to it and then use it to water the plants - what not! You clearly have a strong mind of your own and while at times, the tantrums do get on our nerves, often, either (or both) of us is able to get onto your level and play along and enjoy the fun. Most importantly, for us, as parents, it's been a learning curve on how to teach you and ourselves, how to regulate our emotions and project them rightly, in a timely fashion.

6. Co-sleeping to getting your own bed
After 2 years of sleeping in between us, (yes, we co-slept ever since your birth - it was the most convenient with breastfeeding through the night especially and I wouldn't have it any other way - I wouldn't miss out on watching you sleep next to me, and to be able to caress your cheek, stroke your hair and smell you :D at will, in the middle of the night!), you now, sleep on an adjacent single-bed, which is slightly lower than ours, so it almost seems like a lower bunk bed of sorts! At times, you still get up in the middle and climb over and find your place in between us :D but nights you're fast asleep, we binge watch Netflix and Amazon Prime ;)

7. Being adaptive and resilient
This is something, I probably have to learn from you! How you've adapted to the many changes the past 6 months is beyond me - be it adapting to joining school, our old helper nanny leaving, your grandma too leaving us after a lovely 2 year stint, a new helper coming in, my longer, erratic working hours, a traveling dad, our busy social life, our frequent travels including some unplanned trips like the Bangalore one, when your uncle had appendicitis, I whisked you along, and you didn't fret once. You were such a darling even on the road trip earlier this month to celebrate Maamu's birthday. You've been a good boy even on super-late night flights, way beyond your bed time. You're our little foodie, and haven't given us any trouble when we're in different cities and you've to eat different cuisines etc. This - gives us strength - to be better, to be the best parents we can be to you!

This week, in celebration, we played with organic colours, on Holi and went to the Carnival over the
weekend, where we enjoyed flying and riding around on the fun rides with you.
Ayu, just know, we are so lucky to have you as our little wonder and may you continue to love and be your beautiful self, in this amazing world, happily swirling around in innocent happiness. 

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Tripping with the Sibling

~ 82 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

Hard to believe that a week ago, my younger brother turned 25!
We reminisced about some really fun times, growing up (had even written a blog post about sibling love some years ago). It was a wonderful week of celebration and quality time with the family. 

We traveled together from Bangalore to Kochi, and drove down to Alleppey, to meet our paternal grandma (our only living grandparent). There was a special prayer, booked at the temple - following which we had lovely temple food for lunch, off banana leaves. The Kerala heat got to us soon enough and Ayaan was roaming around semi-naked, playing around with sand, while Prantik and Rohit indulged in some post-prandial afternoon siesta under the fan. We also caught up with some cousins, aunts and uncles, before flying back to Bangalore the same night.

Next day, off we were on our roadtrip to Coorg, Karnataka. This was part of the 5-gift series planned for Rohit's 5(square)=25th birthday. As the brother loves to go on long drives, a roadtrip with the family had to feature! We drove via Mysore and stopped over at the beautiful palace for a quick visit - the beautifully carved pillars and life-like paintings adorning the walls had us in awe. I especially love the road and scenery as we approach Coorg - with tall green trees and cool fresh air. We sang along to Gully Boy songs and even listened to Rohit's latest music compositions, as we made our way to the resort nestled amidst coffee plantations. 

We checked into our rooms at the Club Mahindra-Virajpet and were greeted with some delicious iced black coffee at welcome. Once there, we freshened up and were off our buffet dinners, chatting away to glory. At the strike of the midnight hour, we rang in the not-so-little brother's 25th birthday, with some sweet bubbly Moscato in hand. 

The agenda for the trip was to just relax and spend some good time together - we played sports (Table tennis, Badminton, Billiards) together, took dips in the pool, created fun Boomerang videos with us diving in, went for a much-awaited spa retreat, and as planned, on getting back from the massage, Rohit walked into a room decorated for his birthday - full with balloons, flower petals, towel art and a cake - Ayaan had all day been looking forward to eating 'Rohit Mamu's cake' :D Ayaan blew the candles and helped his uncle cut the cake (and eat most of it too) I had also made a video montage of Rohit's pictures through the last quarter of a century, with 'Bittersweet' (a D's Kitchen original) playing in the background - sitting back, watching and rewatching the compilation with the folks was indeed heart-warming.
(In the pic - feature 2 other gifts - the new Chelsea jersey and the Ukulele) 
Birthday dinner was at Coorgenburg, where we enjoyed dinner over some fabulous local drinks - I especially enjoyed the Kodagu Coffee Martini. We called it a day, after playing a few rounds of cards and getting Ro to recollect what each of the 'AEIOU' (5 gifts for his 5 (square) birthday) in his gift series stands for ;)

One of the mornings, we, the trio, also braved ourselves for some adventure sports - adrenaline junkies, we strapped on our safety harnesses and were all set for the 12 hurdles. It was an enjoyable, memorable experience for sure, interspersed with a lot of laughter and large beads of sweat too ;) 
Soon enough, we were headed back to Bangalore. We enjoyed the countryside and indulged in roadside treats from time to time: sugarcane juice, tender coconut water, raw mangoes, ripe guavas with chilli powder, 'chaat' and such! The next 24 hours, were spent in a blur, catching up with some of my dear college friends and some extended family in Bangalore - namely Ayaan's aunt, uncles, grandaunts, granduncles, and two of my late grandma's sisters, his great-grandaunts. Nothing pleases the heart more than people with whom it seems like one's soul has a connection with, one that transcends time - so even if we scarcely meet, the smiles are genuine and the hugs, a tad bit longer. 

The focus of this blogpost however isn't the roadtrip and all, but the brother himself. 
Over the years, it seems like not only has he grown taller than I, but also probably more mature :D
We've moved from remote TV controller fights, to conspiring for parent's surprise gifts together, from hitting each other to hugging each other, from arguing who the parents' favourite is to both showering love on the newest little member of the family, from discussing about which pizza to order to making travel plans together, from flipping the coin over who gets the last piece of mom's chocolate cake to pretending like we don't want it so the other one can have it, from being not so chatty to being each other's sounding boards & confidantes - life has indeed even given me a close friend (with whom I share some genes too) and I couldn't be more grateful. While it has been heart-warming to see the 'uncle' side of him, to see him as a gentleman has made me prouder. He's a good, goofy friend and would go to great lengths to help his friends and they, for him. He has a kind, compassionate heart and one that knows to respect women and value them for who they are. It's no wonder then he's a favourite amongst the ladies;) and the fact that he's an amazing rockstar also wins him points obviously. He's been an asset to his company, till date and he'll continue to work right until it's time to fly off, to foreign lands to pursue higher studies. To see him grow such, makes a part of me, all emotional and teary-eyed, and the other part burst with joy and pride, beyond description by mere words. So, while the roadtrip was a celebration in a cross-section of time, it was in fact, to honour this wonderful soul, born one balmy March evening, who over the last 25 years has become a force to reckon with. Love you more than you'll ever know, bro. More power to you! 

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Party time in Pune

~ 83 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

As the weekend approached, we were packed and uber excited about our upcoming India trip. We were headed to Pune on our first ever direct flight from Singapore to Prantiks hometown. Ayaan was eager to meet his paternal grandparents too. We've met outside of Pune, quite a number of times, be it Switzerland for Prantik's 35th or Singapore/Bintan for New Year's more recently- but our last Pune visit with Ayaan was actually 2 years ago, which also coincided with his first rice eating ceremony, 'Annaprashan'. 

We landed in Pune, around midnight and were picked by Prantik's parents and uncle
from the airport.
Day 1 was spent chilling at home - always good to kickstart the vacation with our legs up, book in hand. Being Women's Day, mom-in-law and I treated ourselves to some spa time and then shopping. We called it a day, at a much-acclaimed Bengali restaurant, relishing some Kosha Mangsho and Mutton Biryani, with the parents' cultural gang. Even though it was way past his bedtime, baby Ayaan really enjoyed the baby pomfret fry! 

Next day, we headed to the DagduSheth Ganapati temple first and passed by ShaniwarWada, now even more famous, after some scenes from Bajirao Mastani were shot there! We then met some family friends at the Residency Club and chatted over Indo-Chinese Lunch.
Sunday morning, we headed to Prantik's old school: St. Vincent's high school - while Prantik and his parents had a good nostalgic stroll around the campus, Ayaan was busy picking dried leaves and gawking at the hawks and other birds flying around the playground. Brunch was at Marzorin - famous since over two score years, for its sandwiches and cold coffee. 

The same evening - both Prantik and I were in for a surprise. The parents had kindly arranged a social gathering with a large group of family friends. Little did we know, that they had very thoughtfully planned out a felicitation and congratulatory ceremony to honour me passing the MRCEM exam and Prantik's deal-signing! They had even designed mementoes for the two of us - mine in fact featured a sepia picture of 'Anandi Gopal', India's first female doctor (we had in fact, seen a recent Marathi feature film based on her life) to continue to inspire me to keep materialising my professional aspirations and dreams. Both of us were rendered touched and speechless by their heart-warming gesture! We did speak respectively to thank them, and the rest of our family and friends who've supported us through this journey thus far; while Ayu had a ball running around the green lawns, chasing puppies at Kamal Baug (where our reception and Ayaan's Annaprashan had previously been hosted). We did catch up with our friends and some cousins too - it was indeed a lovely evening, under the moonlight - to be cherished for long.

Monday was our last day in Pune - so we did some more shopping and had delicious home-cooked Bengali lunch before the packing frenzy ensued. That evening, we dressed up in shades of green (wardrobe courtesy: yours truly) and headed to Chingaari restaurant (rated as the 2nd best restaurant in India) to treat the folks, in celebration of our milestones. We clicked many a photo, at the beautiful lobby of the Sheraton Grand, posing away to our hearts' content and enjoyed good family time, bonding over food, drinks and Ayaan's mischievous exploits. 
Soon enough, the clock struck 12, and we were headed to the airport, with our packed bags and minds too packed with lovely memories from a short yet really sweet trip to Pune. Until next time!

Monday, 18 March 2019

Working Mom

~84 weeks to my 'Tees'(30th)~

This week was tough. I had mostly back to back evening shifts, and some commitments prior to or after my shifts which meant lesser time with Ayu through the day; and more guilt piling up.

This is not something new that I've had to deal with; even back when I had just resumed work, after my maternity leave, I remember silent tears rolling down my cheeks, which I swiftly wiped off, while inconspicuously traversing in the crowded MRT .. after a few months, Ayu was actually quite sweet and he would wish me well at the door, as I stepped out.
But things have changed since then.

Ayaan being a 2+ year old, has grown a mind of his own - and a big heart, full of big emotions. After the good morning hug, his first words nowadays are "Amma, no work"; I've tried various explanations including "I work, then we get money, then I can buy you cupcakes and lollipops!" - Epic Fail that was, 'cause he immediately retorted with "Don't want cupcakes! I want Amma!!" followed by a lot of bawling, which obviously tore my heart into a million more pieces. Sigh.

I battled everyday, and these are the softer battles, fought with one's own self and nothing anybody says can actually make one feel better. A lot of people tried though, to their credit. Prantik would even send me sweet pictures of Ayu playing, colouring and such - though it would make my heart lighter, knowing that he had forgotten all the drama from earlier, and was happily engaged in fun activities, with his dad - sometimes, that would add on to the guilt too - "Why wasn't I there...?"

But then, as Prantik pointed out very aptly - I was saving precious lives. Indeed - work was rather busy but fulfilling that week - so that helped me see beyond; and slowly but steadily, I crawled out of the deep dungeon of WorkingMom'sGuilt.
I am a mom, but I also am a doctor, a wife, a daughter, a friend, a person on my own ...
I probably measure myself against my mom, who gave 100% of her time and energy, in raising us children - and I finally realised times had changed since and I should refrain from such comparisons. While there is no way I can do what she did (be a stay-at-home mom and a rocking one that too!), simply because, I love what work I do - it most certainly is my Ikigai; at the same time, knowing that I'm giving my best, also makes me feel better. When I'm home, my phone is away, I engage fully with my little one and make every effort to make up for the time lost (if that were even possible!?). I often sacrifice me-time too (not too healthy in the long run) to spend more time with Ayaan. For there's nothing that gets me as high an endorphin rush as simply hugging, rolling and kissing my toddler. And so for now, other things can wait. I use the time when he's at playschool to catch up on stuff that I need to do; and sometimes, I let my hair down and just chill, maybe catch a drink with the ladies, go for a jog/do some yoga or just befittingly binge watch "Working Moms" on Netflix. For one can't love another if you don't love yourself first right?

The weekend was here soon enough; and celebration party#2 was slated that Saturday evening, with our other group of friends, aboard a yacht. We anchored at the Lazarus island, the HappyBoys popped some champagne, we munched on chicken drumlets and thin crust pizza, while watching the glazing sun disappear over calm waters. I held on tight to my toddler, who was slightly freaking out as the boat sped against crashing waters, and salty seawater splashed all over us - he eased out shortly and smiled away, in my arms; it was a perfect culmination to the week indeed. Deep within, I prayed dear Ayu would forgive me one day, and that he'll understand why I do what I do; and as he grows up, he'll love whatever it is he does (just the way I do) and know deep within, that Amma loves him so so much, way beyond the horizon; all my guilt thus, I dropped into the ocean - and I just soaked in the moment - toasting to milestones, to doing our best, to friendship, to happiness.

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Done Deal

~85 weeks to my 'Tees'(30th)~

The week leading upto the signing of "D Deal" was one filled with anticipation and anxiety; Prantik and co. would stay up until wee hours of the night and leave for work early in the morning too. And so, when "D Day" dawned, it was exhilirating to say the least. I can't even begin to imagine, the thousands of thoughts that went across Rachit & Prantik's minds, and the rest of the partners and employees as well. To see one's baby stand up on it's own feet, be of value to others and be old enough to be married away - that is a heart-warming experience. So even though I was in between night shifts, we found our way to the Sofitel hotel at Sentosa, where the #HappyTribe was celebrating the success with the dear family - without whose undying support, this couldn't have been possible.

Prantik has shared his personal journey with Happy Marketer via a touching blogpost too; and just to reminsce about those days, back when they were only few employees, when they had just opened their Bangalore operations and when on a personal front, Prantik and I had just started dating was a truly nostalgic read. To now, seeing them sell their company to Dentsu via Merkle, on some occasions did leave my head reeling.

To celebrate, and have some us time over the weekend, we first booked ourselves at the Ocean Suite, at Sentosa. The view isn't that of the horizon afar, but a sneak peak into the S.E.A. - we had schools of fish, sharks and Manta rays for company all day and night! The duplex also had a jacuzzi and boy, we had a gala time with out little boy, splashing about, in the evening. For dinner we went to the adjoining Ocean Restaurant, and had lovely gourmet food for dinner, with splashing flavours - they also had ocean-themed baby plates and cutlery - and that was so cute!

Saturday we checked in to Shangri-La at Sentosa itself, where we were joined by our close group of friends, to celebrate the deal! In the evening, we chilled over cocktails at the Tanjong Beach Club, and beholded a gorgeous sunset, studded by silhouettes of the coconut trees. Later, we enjoyed the vast buffet dinner spread, back at the hotel; followed by some champagne popping, after our kids had been tucked in. Next day, after the sumptuous breakfast, we chilled at the beach and the pool but soon it was time to check out, and we really wanted to get back again, for more fun times together.

As the week ended, we were back home, to our favourite place, where nothing had changed. The deal or not, home reinforced the values that we grew up with - that money can buy a house, not a home; money can buy a lot of things but not health & peace of mind. So while we celebrated success and $$$ in our bank account, we basked in gratitude to be surrounded by loving and ever-encouraging family and friends, near and dear; and for good health and cheer.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Love & War

~ 86 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

Feb 14th 2019

Woke up on Valentine's Day to the news of the Pulwama suicide bomb attack - where 40 Indian CRPF personnel were martryed. On the day of love, our brothers who limitlessly loved the nation, lost their lives, to terrorism - 'twas a black day for all peace-crusaders...

A few words in their honour... 

A mother woke to her toddler's kisses
Another mother, her young son, she misses
A father got back with love gifts for the family
Another woke to news of melancholy
A daughter is ready to deck up in a red dress
Another will have to put her father's body to rest
A son is ready to head to school
Another's life is stolen, ahead of time, by terrorists, who think they're cool
A wife is welcomed by a colourful flower bouquet
Another's won't ever be the same, starting today
A baby is cuddled tight by its mother & father
An unborn one won't ever hear the voice of the latter
A sibling is jealous of his older brother 
Another vows to join the forces, just like their elder bro, martyred 

Us (4+1) in Ubud

~ 87 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

Bali this time with out Bangalore friends, #SamRut

We checked into our picturesque 2-bedroom pool villa
and toasted to good times with coffee-tequila
The traditional art market was the girl's first stop
While the boys chilled together at the coffee shop
We walked across the beautiful Ubud palace ground then
Followed by a sumptuous meal, catching up over spicy cocktails, satay and Nasi Goreng
We enjoyed Gamelan music and dance, while waiting for our ride back, and the drizzle to subside
A day that started with yoga by the paddy fields, ended then with much-deserved spa-time

Oh what fun we had chilling in our villa pool
And exploring the nature trails around, so cool
Such pure joy cuddling our little toddler boy
Who loved eating satay, posing and acting coy
We were in awe beholding the beautiful rice terrace farms
Sipping on Kopi Luwak, while the clouds brewed up a storm
We headed to the highly recommended 'Hujan Local' for dinner
The food and ambience definitely blew us over
And soon it was time to head back already with our little cub
But not before spending the afternoon at the famed Potato Head beach club.

Monday, 11 February 2019

50 months since #SocialShaadi

~ 88 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

Prantik and I celebrated 50 months since our wedding on Feb 3rd, 2019.
The Friday leading up to the weekend, I surprised him post work in my scrub-pants and met him after his gym session, at a resto-bar in the city. We enjoyed good conversation, over some salads and delicious refreshing cocktails! 
Saturday evening was spent with our usual gang of friends along with another couple from the US, who stopped over at Singapore, on their way to India - we enjoyed Asian dinner, followed by drinks at the rooftop, laughing over stories from the past and mysteries of the future.
On Sunday i.e the 3rd of Feb - we stole some time, while the toddler indulged in his afternoon siesta, to catch a late matinee show of a Bollywood movie at the theatre; followed by coffee, chilling on the lawn. 

Just looking back at how far we've come since our wedding ceremonies, left us feeling giddy! 
We've had a fair share of ups and downs, like any other couple out there- but we've stuck together despite all the differences... and just as we've gotten older, we've also grown wiser (hopefully) and here's hoping that we continue on this roller-coaster journey together, learning to let go (of things that don't matter on the long run) and holding on, when required (to faith in ourselves and the higher Force, if one's a believer)


S = Surprises/Sarcasm
O = Optimism/Overcommitted
C = Companionship/Critical
I = Intimacy/Insecurities
A = Adventures/Assumptions
L = Love/Lack of empathy
S = Security/Scarcity of time
H = Home/Home alone
A = Affection/Anger
A = Ambition/Abrasiveness
D = Dancing together/Defensiveness
I = Infinite growth/Imperfections

These are personality as well as couple traits that do not get completely reflected on Social media posts - because by default, we are all narcissistic characters - and we'd only project the good side, editted pictures in good light, sans red eyes, with filters etc - but the truth is, we're all normal people, with our own idiosyncrasies and flaws. 

Marriage continues to teach us to focus inwards on personal growth continually, while also being considerate and giving towards the other half's (I do not say 'better half' because everyone is a different individual, and one mustn't compare apples to oranges!) journey of discovery and growth.
It is learning to enjoy the roller coaster ride, while maintaining our poise and striking the right balance.
It is learning to adapt to the changes that we undergo as time passes by, and finding our footing while the waves go by.
It is learning to take over new roles, doning invisible superhero/heroine capes even, and giving it our best; and at times, when we can't for whatever reason, falling back on our partner, and being able to rely on them ... and at the end of the day, looking back and being able to smile together, at a job well done - be it setting our house up, cooking a meal, raising our toddler and such. 

It's been a fantastic 50 months with you, Prantik; we've seen each other through some tough and rough times; we've danced through the good times and well, we've had some jolly good - great times too - may we continue to be grateful for the blessings that continue to be showered upon us; may we never take each other for granted; and may we continue on this beautiful journey, hand in hand, until they get crooked from senile arthritis, until you lose all your hair, mine grey beyond repair, and we fall asleep cuddling one night, reminiscing about the days, months and decades we've spent together, and pass onto the next world, in peace...

Saturday, 2 February 2019

Dear Mamama ...

~ 89 weeks to my 'Tees' (30th) ~

The most important thing the past week has got to be mum leaving for good ... and so after 2.3 years of helping us look after not just Ayaan, but also our household and ourselves - Amma was finally flying off to be with Papa (finally an end to their 'Baghban' like long-distance situation) and now we were on our own! The house did feel empty, but our hearts were full, and heavy...

Thus, I decided to pen this not-so-little poem, on behalf of the little one: An ode to our wonder-woman! :*

Dear Mamama...

Thank you Mamama
For running behind Amma
Being wheeled off on the hospital trolley
As you witnessed your prayers being answered
And set your eyes for the first time on me

Thank you Mamama
For taking me in your arms, even past midnight
And rocking me to sleep
Singing "Nanda ke laala" so melodiously
Until I drifted into my dreamworld, deep

Thank you Mamama
For taking care of Amma
So she could breastfeed me exclusively
For being so persevering, when Amma headed back to work
And you had to at times even force spoon/bottle feed me

Thank you Mamama
For recording all my first milestones
Be it my first smile, giggle or boisterous laugh
Or me sliding, crawling and cruising - my first steps
Even my fussy crying, when you'd all had enough! :D

Thank you Mamama
For teaching me my first syllables, letters and words
And soon we were singing my first nursery rhymes together
It's no wonder that 'Mamama' was amongst my first few words
Especially as we spent so much time with each other

Thank you Mamama
For taking me outdoors daily, and running behind me
We would see the koi fish, and play with Ashley the cat, seek and hide
Collect dried leaves and flowers; or go to the "sp(l)ash zone"
And when older, watch me climb up and down the slide

Thank you Mamama
(&Ajjo) for "so many many" gifts from Jakarta and elsewhere
For filling my wardrobe with the softest cotton clothes
Umpteen books, which I get Amma-Baba to re-read
And my tricycle, and my latest scooter, to speed away, I suppose?

Thank you Mamama
For letting me do yoga with you
Merely a "copycat" but it felt nice anyways
Even breathing as you and Ajjo did during 'Bhastrika pranayama'
Climbing on you, and hugging you "G'morning" while you were doing your asanas!

Thank you Mamama
For being my serene moonlight and morning sunshine
And teaching me to greet the cleaner aunty and the security/driver uncle with glee
Also, for teaching me to be kind and share
So now all my friends (and their nannies) love me

Thank you Mamama
For making me love food, fruits and veggies, in all its vast variety
Especially with all the yummy meals you cooked
My faves till date: 'puttu' with banana, 'sabudana', Chocolate cake
"d(r)agon fruit", carrot "(cha)pati", and broccoli, slightly undercooked

Thank you Mamama
For teaching me the value of prayer
And bowing down to the Almighty everyday
Now, I can do "puja" on my own ;)
And chant in tune, all alone, "Om Namah Shivaya"

Thank you Mamama
For teasing me and tickling me
And making me laugh, by saying you'll pull my ears
For all the great times together and being there for me,
Amma & Baba, over the last couple of years

Thank you Mamama
For dressing me up and treating me as your little Krishna
To me, much like a second mother (Yashoda) you've been
You've fed me, bathed me, changed me, not once, scolded me
Always dropped and picked me from school, even if unwell, you'd been

Thank you Mamama
For teaching nanny #1 & #2
The way to my favourite "another park" and playschool
And to my heart too with my fav "One Fish Two Fish" tshirt
And "my tummy", with my fav foods too - you're too cool!

Thank you Mamama
For sacrificing your time, which you could have spent with Ajjo/Mamu
To help Amma-Baba look after me
For sacrificing sleep, and alot of me-time
In exchange for a lot of quality time with me

Thank you Mamama
For being my "Mogach" (favourite person) in this world
For being the epitome of unconditional love and kindness
I hope we get to chill together, often in the future too
But until then, all these cherishable times, I'll definitely miss

"Love you so much"
Ayu ...

P.S. I'll share my Lollipo(p)k with you when you FaceTime next ...