Thursday, November 30, 2017

Bombay and all the things that it brings

My brother and family moved to Bombay at the end of the summer. After 5 years in Chennai, an opportunity brought him at a cross road and I'm surprised he chose to move to Bombay. Don't get me wrong, k's entire family on both sides are bombayites, I've not heard one sentence spoken about that city without fond nostalgia from them, K was born and spent his early childhood there. But I can't get myself to imagine life in that city.

It's unliveable. Crowded beyond imagination, lacking in basic Civic amenities but what it makes up for is the spirit of it's people and the availability of almost anything.

My brother has taken to the city like a fish to water. His family, the kids especially found Chennai stifling because of the constant chatter that happened around not being Tamil. My ten year old niece in particular had the most trying time making friends. She was glad to leave.

The crowds just unnerve me. It's like no one can find a quiet moment in Bombay. The conveniences tho will stun you. Everything is available at arms length, each area is pretty self sufficient and people are nicer because everyone there is like you a migrant.

I visited bombay atleast 10 times in the past and again in September for Amma's Birthday and saw first hand how much happier this city made my family. It was humbling. For a pucca Hyderabadi used to a slower pace of life and being very laid back, I'm shocked at how my brother has adapted to the new city. It's one thing to meld when you're young, ambitious and energetic. It's another thing to move when you're 40 and with two kids in tow.

I told him I'm very happy to come visit, to see the sights and sounds and eat and shop, but I can't get myself to live there. Sorry but that's just how it is and not that anyone's going to miss me!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Breakfast Stories

We were on holiday recently and travelled for the first time with two other couples k works with. We have in the past enjoyed travelling with friends multiple times, but this was the first with these folks.

These are people I know. Folks I meet and have eaten with, multiple times, over the last 6 years. We have visited each other's homes and socialized to celebrate occasions and sometimes just like that. Yet I didn't know what to expect from the trip. It's one thing to meet people for a few hours every few months. It's a completely different thing to stay with them and be with them over the course of a few days.

While I mostly enjoyed their company, the majestic palace hotel we stayed at and the general chatter, I loathed meal times. Suddenly the dining table became a no holds barred advice giving forum. Advice on what to eat and how and why and when by the two ladies who are extremely health and diet conscious (read stick thin). Each time someone reached for a waffle or ordered Puri bhaji, there was a five minute discourse about how unfit the rest were and what wrong food choices we were making.

I'm a fairly rational person. I understand when people  dish out well meaning advice  But there is a limit to the mumbo-jumbo I could listen to from ill informed people bent on making my long pending three day holiday into a 'correct your eating habits' workshop.

So I did the next best thing, thanks to early rising with Sage that's become a habit, I quickly began going very early and ahead of everyone to have my coffee and breakfast in peace. We are talking waking around 5:45, walking an hour and heading to breakfast by 7 a.m when only the staff is around and they're still setting up for service. I can manage every other meal in chaos and tune out the noise, but I need my coffee and breakfast in absolute peace, preferably eaten in silence.


This arrangement worked to prep me for the rest of the day shared with other adults and a few kids and gave me enough time in the company I enjoy the most - mine. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Explaining tragedy to a very protected teen

I have two nieces. One is 17. K's sister's daughter. And one is 10, my brother's daughter. I love them both unequally. Because my brother's daughter was born before my eyes and I looked after her as a new born. I have a special bond with her.

With my 17 year old niece, I try to be her friend. Hand hold her through this difficult transition from childhood to adulthood. She's the child of a single parent and carries the heavy baggage that comes with it.

One of the most docile and innocent 17 year old kids you'll ever meet.

Four days ago, a classmate of hers went missing. A girl who sat with P during accounts class. A girl she went out to eat pani Puri with. They used to go by the same bus and were living in the same colony. The girl was called 'modern, fast and with it' she had an ex boyfriend and wanted to be a model. Day one everyone assumed she'd eloped. There was comments galore and insensitive talk. To her credit P told us that she didn't see anything so she didn't say a word. She didn't indulge in the loose talk.

Day 2 a missing persons report was filed and a massive hunt was on. P was distraught terrified something bad has happened. She couldn't focus on anything and couldn't sleep.

Day 3 the kids were scared shitless that the cops would come to them for questioning. P was terrified what would happen but k sat her down and had a long talk with her. Reassuring at the same time telling her that life would throw up many more of these instances and she needs to harden up.

Day 4 the worst had happened. The girl that was missing was found dead. This is a 17 year old girl, a girl that studied with my niece. P cried and couldn't believe what had happened. There was speculation of sexual assault and the probable scenes replayed again and again through her head. She wanted to keep talking about it and we spoke to her with as much patience as we could. Helping her process this was important. It also told me that while she has been exposed to a lot of things, at her core she remains a girl with a sensible head on her shoulders, who evaluates risks and threats and tries her best to manouvre her path.

Day 5. The school declared a holiday and to take her mins off this I took her to class with me. I put her with a partner who was quiet and gentle and she did well. We came home after class to the news that an arrest has been made. The culprit, an old classmate and a boy the victim was in love with had strangled and killed her to get her off his back. P has met this boy. He's some sort of a hero and legend In their school. She couldn't believe it was him who did this. She kept asking me how a friend could do this. I had no answers.

This is a 17 year old. Who murdered a girl he was no longer interested in romantically. Who teaches them this stuff. Who makes them think they'll get away with this or that it's ok to kill someone you don't like anymore?

My in-laws moved to an apartment on our floor two weeks ago. I have a feeling this situation would have inflicted even more trauma on us if we were not together. I have never been more thankful to be around her than now. I am trying to sleep but cannot.

Friday, August 18, 2017

How do I want to remember July?

I started to write this two weeks ago.......

Its already the second week of august and this year is flying at a speed I cannot keep up with.

Mostly the only bright spot about July was my birthday, which I got to spend with my friends that are my family, eat a lot of food and drink till my liver protested.

The work month was not as impressive as I wanted it to be, but it was not bad either so I will settle mid way.

Sage had a couple of seizures during the month and that threw me off quite badly. He is being brave and tries not to be a pain any other way, tries and recovers as soon as possible, but throw off it does.

There are a bunch of dogs in our colony, they wander around, mostly one family of a pair, their 5 offspring and 4 drifters, single dogs that sort of live on the fringes of the pack. They are welcomed when convenient and the first to be targeted when one from the family is having a bad day. All of them have names they respond to and are generally friendly. There was this spritely pup, black with some white on all four of his legs. I christened him boots. He was adorable, came on command, played like a pesty younger sibling with sage and was precocious. Suddenly he disappeared and I was told three others taken with him by the municipality. I called the dog pound and checked and fought till they were located and dumped back in our colony 5 days later. A week after they came back I noticed some of the dogs weren't around and the local auto drivers told me that two dogs had died over the last few days and the municipality had taken them away.

Boots was never the same. He was quieter, rapidly losing weight and didn't want to come and play. I dont feed the dogs, just watch over them and manage them when they are sick and need a vet. I checked and put him on saline for 2 days, he seemed to recover, and then suddenly one morning on my walk, I was told by the nearby tea vendor that he looks very very ill. I rushed to find him, almost cold, laboured breathing and smelling bad. I picked him up and wrapped him in a thick towel, brought him home and called the vet who asked me to come at 10 as he was in surgery. It was 8 am. I tried to give him body warmth and glucose and will him to be better. He pushed his head up and acknowledged me, but his frail body couldn't take it anymore and after an hour, as I had him on my lap, Boots just died. As the tears flowed down my cheeks, I said I was sorry for not doing enough and letting him down. I put him in a box and got him buried.

I couldnt get over what had happened and I clung to Sage that day.

A day later I began to notice that Joy, a pup from the previous litter, a white speckled fellow with a brown head, he was always so happy and would run to me and hit me with all his body weight, was losing weight rapidly. I took him to the vet who suspected it was distemper and said most unvaccinated dogs get it if in contact with an infected dog. Boots and Joy most likely were exposed to an infected dog when they were taken to the pound. Joy was on saline and anti biotics to help him and I was feeding him thrice a day for strength. 4 days of this and he greeted me feebly and I picked him up, he was a tall hound like fellow, nuzzled him and told him I was so happy to see him recover. Just when I thought he was out of danger, he deteriorated and in 24 hours was skin and bone, with a severe chest infection and having mild seizures. I put him in the car and on the way to the vet he had a massive seizure. He came out of it in 2 minutes but was bewildered. When I showed him to the vet, he said there was no hope and that joy would die within 24 hours and was in great pain. I asked for him to be euthanised to give him some peace. I sat there with Joy on my lap as he passed into a deep sleep. We buried him on the ORR at a spot where his lifeless body would not be a risk for other strays.

I also had Popcorn with me in the car. A dog I rescued from a pack that was attacking him, but could not keep. One building in our colony agreed to allow him to sleep inside the gate and I feed him once a day. Popcorn also was picked up with joy and boots despite having a collar and I was worried sick he was infected too since he was losing weight and was so weak his feet were buckling the last few days. So had taken him with joy for a check up. The vet said we cannot be sure, but gave him saline and a few shots of antibiotics.

K told me that in all of this, I didn't once worry about exposing sage to the infection. I was terrified for both popcorn and sage. We procured the testing kits and fortunately both popcorn and sage tested negative. most dogs with distemper die out of secondary infections that make them so weak that they are too tired to look for food and in the end it is starvation. So popcorn is now on a 4 times a day feeding schedule. I give him pedigree, boiled eggs and milk with glucose added. Its been a week and he seems to be gaining strength and I am happy about it.

The end of july also brought the bad news of the passing of an old friend who used to help me and amma with our taxes. A nice simple unassuming guy, just died of a massive heart attack and that was such a shock to me.

The month wasn't the best in terms of personal stuff and I hope and pray that the worst is behind us. I want august to be better....

Saturday, July 15, 2017

No two days are similar

This week has been checkered at best. The weekend began with bringing in my 40th birthday. As per usual, K and I didn't make any plans. He because he couldn't be bothered. Me because I was too proud to organise my own celebration. But B and J were here and we went out, I wore a new dress, we made merry and had a good time. Sunday was also a good day, more alcohol, food and some friends who came home to wish me. 

MIL's sister and her husband came to visit. He has alzheimers and is now unable to place most of his immediate family. He is aware of it, he has become a shadow of his earlier self, but is lucid and engaging. I took their grand daughter and my SIL's daughter to watch Spiderman the next day. It was to be a girls day out but one of my nieces had an upset tummy so it was just a movie date. I was bored out of my wits at the movie. I cannot think of a more insipid super hero movie in a while. 

Spent wednesday baking. And making about 120 theplas as requested by a friend who was travelling abroad. So the house and studio resembled a small scale spice and chutney powder factory that day. We baked some eggless jaggery banana loaves, cupcakes and lots of salt and pepper cookies. I feel humbled when they call back and praise the bakes to the skies. I need to stop dismissing praise. Learning to accept it gracefully will be a battle to fight in this new decade. 

Started my 8 day baking workshop on thursday. I have 4 people signed up for the whole course and through the week there will be folks who do single sessions. Starting the sessions on thursday is not by choice, I had to do it in order that the most popular ones which attract more single session participants comes on the weekend. I have an IITian whos quit his job because he loves to cook. One chubby boy turned fitness freak who weighs every morsel he eats. One set of identical twin ladies and my assistant is most intrigued about which one is older! 

Sage came to the studio on thursday and he slept through the whole session. Didn't show any signs of discomfort. But suddenly at 11.55 pm he had a massive seizure. this is the third in 4 weeks and I was at my wits end. Pouring rain, K not reachable and a completely disoriented Sage. I may have had a meltdown if I had an audience. I managed somehow but I swear I am really tired now. The mental stress of keeping all balls up in the air is telling on me and I am snappier than ever before. 

Yesterday K stayed home till I finished my session and went to work post lunch. I dont know what we will do today. Sage is not displaying any pre-ictal signs which is puzzling and each seizure in the last month has left me baffled because it seems to come out of nowhere. 

In the midst of all of this, I am thinking of starting a sourdough starter. Its popping up on every one of my social media and I am intrigued by it. I had a starter a few years ago which I killed off because I grew tired of feeding it. May be this weekend. Oh wait, today is already saturday!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Useless vanities

As I sit in the balcony this morning, enjoying the silence, a cup of well made coffee and the soft fur of my fluff ball that I have used to prop my feet on,I notice the colour of my nails is similar to his harness.

Yesterday after a particularly bad instance of I can't recognize myself anymore, I booked a salon at home appointment via an app. The beautician was late by an hour, rather clumsy and a little nosey but she threaded my brows and I got my nails painted a nice shade of red.

The last two weeks have been stressful with sage and his attacks. I'm living mostly on the support of online services that allow me to get most of my chores done while sitting next to him.

Today as I vainly look at my toes, I am filled with gratitude for all of this.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Why I take Monday's off

My busiest time of the week is the weekend at the studio. While I have a mixed demographic, weekend classes seem to always fill to capacity. I tried taking Sundays off. But the losses were too much to ignore. So now I happily work on most Sundays.

My father used to have Mondays off. He would wait for everyone to leave. Read the newspaper end to end, have the whole house to himself (which is bliss if you live with a large extended family like we did) and nap luxuriously after lunch, by which time the chaos would be back. He obviously loved it that way.

I may have inherited this. While we are a two person household, things get hectic during the week. There is constantly something to do and I really look forward to a day of silence.

Today is Eid, technically a holiday but k has to go to office and that makes me so happy 😂

I've just had a glorious breakfast of the excellent aloo paratha Sulochana makes, have curled up with my blanket in the guest room, sage is at my feet and this is how this day will progress.

Slowly and silently

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A week of nothing

Today is thursday and I have spent every day since monday doing nothing. It feels strange and odd, but also deeply restful. If I am honest, even though it has been so long since I began teaching, 14 years of corporate training, 10 years of baking workshops and 3 years of them being fulltime, it is a physically exhausting job. I love my work, dont get me wrong. But the constant talking, explaining and being on my feet during classes for about 5 hours on an average is physically exhausting. 

Last weekend was an unexpectedly tiring week. N was here for just a week, I cancelled a saturday workshop to spend with her. We did a spa and lunch date and then thanks to jet lag she was fading by 5 pm. All plans for the evening were cancelled and she went home. B and J came over, we pulled a late night and I slept at 3.30 AM only to wake up as usual and do a bread workshop till 3.30 PM the next day. Sunday shenanigans continued and while I would have ideally liked to just crash at home, we spent the evening watching movies and talking.

Monday morning after b & J left, K went to work, I skipped breakfast for an early 12.30 lunch and then collapsed on my bed. Slept all afternoon till 6 pm only to be woken bya  slightly panicking Sage who obviously took me for dead. 

On tuesday I went to meet an old friend over coffee and chatted a bit. Got back home and spent some time online (but obviously) and then went back to sleep at the odd hour of 5 pm to wake up at 9 pm. Poor sage had his walk and meal only after I rose from my slumber. 

Yesterday was such a fun day for me. A relaxing change. I went out to meet this lady via instagram. A fellow lady baker and entrepreneur who runs a quaint little patisserie on banjara hills road. Although as per usual I did most of the talking, it was interesting to gain another perspective, especially a female perspective. Post this I headed to K's office. He has been working nonstop for the past few weeks and I have hardly seen him. He comes home in the wee hours of the morning on most days and is too sleepy in the morning to make conversation. Work was winding down and I wanted to shop a little for the house and my studio, so he decided to take me out. Post a sandwich lunch, we headed to a mall nearby. 

My love hate relationship with malls is something even I do not understand. I crave to head out, to browse stores unendingly, find something that I love and go home with it satisfied. But the minute I step into a mall I feel claustrophobic. The crowds, the AC being turned off in the corridors, and then I begin to see everything in a haze. Everything looks the same (maybe it is) and I get confused, I lose track of what I came there for and then want to leave almost immediately. Yesterday between K and me we soldiered on, bought a couple of quilts, and exited as soon as we could. Sage was not too happy to be left home alone, but he was not too annoyed. Nothing a few cuddles cant fix. We watched a movie, ordered in some momos and were in bed by 9.30. both of us kind of exhausted from the week and happy to turn in early. This week of nothing looks good. I have another couple of days before my weekend classes start and I couldn't be more grateful for this nothing-ness.

Friday, April 7, 2017

A rough month

March has ended. Thank god and even tho april and may lie ahead and the heat is going to drive me crazy I will still take it over the shitty month march has been.

In a giant FU, it ended with Amma having a trip and fall over Cindy, our dog in chennai, landing on the wooden armrest of the sofa and needing three stitches to her forehead cut. My brother called yesterday to tell me that she is fine, shaken but not shut up yet. The doctors at the emergency apparently told her to talk less! My heart broke into a thousand pieces as I heard the news, but ten minutes later as I spoke to her, I knew she would come out of this fine.

The misery of being away from ones loved ones when they are unwell or hurt is terrible. The dreary month dragged on. the only bright spot being that my uncle and aunt were here for a couple of days. They were in town to celebrate the birthday of my mom's cousin who turned 97. I wrote about her here a few years ago. One of the most remarkable ladies of my family. Amma was super excited to have her only surviving sibling around and they all went back to chennai together. It was my nephew's birthday and they were to attend, then get back to bangalore, this happened after dinner on the birthday.

It has taken me a couple of days to come to terms with all of this and the last time I felt this overwhelmed and helpless was when this shit lasted half of the year instead of a month a few years ago.

Glad to see this new month. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Is this the new normal?

Since the beginning of this year, I have had a terrible time with Sage's health. He's been going into a preictal phase, which is the stage before the full blown seizure, but not actually having one. The preictal stage is characterized for Sage (changes for every dog) by being more clingy than he usually is, jumpy at sudden sharp sounds, ultra sensitive to known sounds like the reverse tune of our car, sound of the lift on our floor, phone beeps and doorbell. He also sometimes begins to walk into doors and walls or wedge himself into tiny corners like between furniture etc. Constant needs for a walk because he is restless, sometimes every half hour, so I will walk him, bring him upstairs to our apartment, feed and give him water (which is a habit after every walk) and he will ask for another walk almost immediately. Which means there are days and nights when I am walking him continuously for upto 6 hours.

We put him on an hourly emergency medication which has averted the actual seizure from happening, but sometimes I wonder if he should just have the attack so that all of us can be done with it. 

This has meant round the clock monitoring and one block of 4 days when neither K or I slept because we needed to be alert. Sage can't settle down and sleep and is distrustful of climbing up and down from our bed, so I put a sheet on the floor to sleep next to him and comfort him. By the 36th hour, K and I are exhausted and at our wits end and getting at each other like cats in heat. This ended, we had a few weeks of normal and repeat!

While this sounds very mild, imagine living with this recurring every few weeks. It is exhausting. Plus I am unable to leave him home alone for any period of time, I cart him to the studio during workshops and he is leashed till the session is done. But with the temperatures soaring and the heat of the ovens, it gets ridiculously hot and uncomfortable for him and he whines and cries or is restless adding to my stress. I cannot figure whether I should give up classes and stay home or take him and lump it.

If I have to go any place, it is a mad synchronised dance with K and most times, I don't go out unless there is something very important because it causes everyone to be on edge. I do feel sometimes that I do not enough social interactions and need to get out more.

Last week, overwhelmed with all the stuff happening, I wanted to get away from everything and everyone, just walk till my feet hurt and exhaust myself physically so that the mental strain is not felt that much. But the minute I leave the house without him, Sage panics. So there I was, unable to break free, walking with him, feeling so suffocated and sorry for myself. I sat on the steps of a still unfinished mall and started to cry, cloaked by the darkness which had already fallen. I don't know why I burst into tears like that, I usually don't. But I just couldn't stop crying. Nuzzling me was Sage, making me feel more guilty that I held him partly responsible for my suffocation. He sat there, next to me, wedging his nose between my face and knees as I sobbed. I held onto him after a few minutes, and told him I was tired and sorry and just wanted a break. When I was spent, he walked me back and the next couple of days, he was so calm and tried not to get into my hair like he exactly understood what I needed.

I know he is helpless and fully dependent on me, but there are times when all I want is to have a day where I eat and sleep to my hearts content rather than according to his medication, food and walk schedule.

Work has been at the receiving end of all of this drama and for the last month, I haven't done much work which again sets me off. So it has been a cluster fuck for atleast the past 8 weeks. I am crabby and snappy and find everything getting on my nerves. I am sick of being this version of me to be honest. It has to stop, it has to change. If this is the new normal I will be terrible to live with in a few weeks :(

Thursday, February 9, 2017

To new beginnings

I decide to write this in the second month of the new year. That should tell you how prompt I am if you are reading this blog for the first time. I am never prompt and this blog remains a little pointless actually. Between sharing pictures on instagram, facebook and everywhere else, my words are buried.

this year, we started with a bang. With two other couples, one that had two of the most delightful children (under the age of 5!) we spent the last weekend of the year at our beloved farm.
In less than a year, we have had to redo the roofing, which was mangalore tiles. All thanks to the idiot contractor who did the original construction and didn't know his ass from his elbow, and left the roof dangerously sloping under the weight of the tiles.
Our driver S did a fabulous job in under 2 weeks, working day and night and gave us a wonderfully redone cottage. So we spent the last week there. Food, including a BBQ session with less than optimal tools, friends, lots of booze and so much fun that I literally passed out on the grass with Sage. No really, I'd been drinking since 11 a.m on 31st, fresh toddy for the morning, of which I had almost a litre, friends visiting for lunch and without any rest plunged head long quite literally into the evening, demolishing more than a bottle of wine I think.
Each time I drink I tell myself my glory days of binge drinking are done, I am now ageing and cannot digest (or metabolise) so much alcohol anymore, and then i forget those conversations and wake up after a few too many with my head reeling and me promising to be a better judge of my metabolism.
I made kachi gosht ki biryani without any help and was mighty pleased with myself that I managed to do it in a makeshift kitchen! It turned out fantastic and I was able to appreciate it much more for lunch on new year's day!

It has been an interesting year this past one. A year sans drama and paring my life and routine down to only the things that mattered to me. It has been a calming year as much as a challenging one with work and personal life. I am going to write to recap it hopefully soon because I may just forget.

I hope 2017 is all that I want it to be...

I had this in drafts since the first week of jan and am finally posting this here....