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.