Monday, September 19, 2011

Letting Go... probably the hardest thing to do at times. Yet, we all have to do it for various reasons at different stages in our lives. Sometimes I'm amazed how I've lived my entire life with all my belongings in one small cupboard shared by two boarders and one bedding. When it was time to let go of that, I moved into our 1100 sq ft flat in Kolkata with one room complete with a desk, bed and armoire entirely to myself. It felt very complete and even though there didn't seem enough space in the room to walk around - it felt like I had everything I need. Out here in the US life began with big dreams - the US dream of a four bedroom house and two car garage with a big backyard and we didn't take much time to move into a 2300 sq ft house and once again furnished it to its fullest. 

Now I realize the excess. Everywhere I look around me I see 'stuff' more than half of which we really don't need in any way or form. Its time to dig deeper and free myself from this materialistic clutter I've created around me. I thought it would be an easy fix. I was wrong. As I put furniture and other personal things on sale and see them go away one at a time, I can't help but feel a bit of sadness and loss. Feeling this way has taken me by surprise since I never knew I was attached to them this way.

Tonight as my formal living area lets go of its last piece of furniture I convince myself change is a good thing and this will be good for me in the long run.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

What's in My Fridge?

PEE. Yes, you heard right - I have PEE in my fridge, aka URINE. Ah, the joys of parenthood!
Anyone else grossed out?
So before I put it in the fridge (as per doctor's advice and not some sickening pleasure you think I'm deriving out of this), I actually debated whether I should let it cool to room temperature first and exactly how many ziplocs would I need for this. I'm on a budget here, so I ended up using only one. As for the cooling - the fridge took care of it I suppose.

Welcome to my week. A week of endless fever (starting Saturday night and still persisting), sleepless nights, two antibiotics, two bottles of Tylenol, endless (I'm probably going to be using this word too many times in this post) whining, 0 sick days now moving on to vacation days (I hate to admit that this is what is probably disturbing me most) and now I have urine sample in my fridge. And all of this might persist for 48 more hours (minus the pee thankfully). Hell yes, I'm CRANKY!!!

It started off as a sinus infection. The first antibiotic probably didn't work. Now the congestion is in her chest and there is a possibility of urine infection. So she's on her second antibiotic and we can only hope this will work. Poor baby is miserable from being sick.

Scene at the Paul residence
Thanks to all my FB friends who tried to guess what I had in my fridge. Hope you are all grossed out now - I am surely deriving some pleasure out of this  :)

To those local friends (minus one) who knew E was sick and didn't bother to call/email - this mom who is single during the week is PISSED (pun intended)!

At this point I'm just glad I drink red wine and it doesn't need to be refrigerated.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Blah blah blah blah blah

Yes, I know I need to finish my series on boarding schools and it would be wrong to say I don't have the time. The fact is when I do have the time I just want to...well, do nothing! Most nights I've been falling asleep by 9pm out of exhaustion and not the physical kind. My brains are fried from having listening to my daughter talk and ask questions continuously for five or six hours straight. Her hand always gets tired after maybe 5 spoonfuls of food into her mouth. How come her mouth doesn't get tired from all the talking I'm still to figure out. I know I sound like a horrible mother, but I need this to stop asap - duct tape anyone?

There are times I think she tests if I am listening. She will ask me a question knowing very well my answer will be no. But after maybe an hours worth of listening I have of course tuned out and without even knowing what she is asking for I just nod trying to show I'm listening. Right at that moment she will try to snatch whatever device I have in my hand and get my attention by asking why she is allowed to do so and so. Now after hearing what she really wants I have to take back my nod (yes) and say no. Now what follows is a whole set of why's and this time I have to answer all of them so that I stay consistent with the lesson I'm trying to provide which at this point I'm utterly confused about. Make sense? No? Welcome to my life.

Yesterday I took her for a walk after school. At the end of it I wasn't tired of walking as much as I was from listening and trying to answer a million questions.

Today she is sick and at home, which means six additional hours of talk time. Which means wine alone will not do the trick.

For all my friends updating their status on FB with all your fun travel plans for this long weekend - anyone want to take this opportunity to show me what a TRUE friend you are and take E along? :)

Photo from our walk yesterday by E.
However many seconds it took to take the photo was the ONLY time she wasn't speaking.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Growing Up in a Boarding School - Amen!

I've probably never been as exposed to religion in my entire life as I was during my first four years of boarding school at Pratt. We knelt by our beds every night to say a prayer as well as before every meal. Our school had a Church that we visited every Sunday morning and I learned to sing hymns from the Bible and make a cross in the air with my hand. I was too young to grasp the concept of religion then, but I do remember looking forward to going to Church. It was a chance to escape the four walls of the hostel and come in contact with the "outside world". I also loved the architecture, the stained glass and how the Church smelled. After Church I went to special Bible class by choice because I was intrigued by all the stories. I knew all about Christianity before I knew anything about Hinduism.

So naturally Christmas was big at my school. Before we closed for the Holidays, the boarders put up an annual show and party. Imagine my excitement when I was told I would be the "Guiding Star" and would be in costume and makeup. The play was going to depict Jesus being born and only a handful of junior dorm students were selected to be in character and I was one of them. I was elated. However, Jesus must have noticed my yawns at Church and I fell sick right before the play. High temperature had me lying in bed at our "Sick Room" for days and I missed rehearsals. One evening Tota came to visit me and let me know that she was given my role. That night I cried - I was so sad. I did end up being in the play but as a last minute addition where I had to enter with a bunch of girls and skip and hop and leave. I was not in costume and had to wear one of my own outfits.

It still intrigues me how I did not end up being all that religious after all of that. Maybe because I eventually realized that people think being religious makes up for all the wrong they do. However, I am thankful for the life I've had, the experiences that have taught me so much, loved ones and now my daughter. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - amen!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Growing Up in a Boarding School - The Dining Experience!

I cannot remember if getting into the groove of things at Pratt was easy or
difficult. My memory of those first few years is somewhat fuzzy. I stayed
there for about four years moving on to another boarding school, but more on
the move in future installments.

Apart from sleeping in an uncomfortable bed with a room full of total
strangers and using those common toilets and bath area I think the biggest
adjustment was the food. If you know anything about Bengali's you would know
we are all about our food. Our daily meals are pretty elaborate and
delicious and parents jump through hoops feeding their kids to make them
round and chubby. Before stepping into hostel life I did not quite appreciate
that of course. I used to be one of those kids not too keen on eating and
would take hours finishing one meal. It didn't take me long to realize the good life I'd left behind soon after I sat down for my first meal at the hostel.

The aluminum plates and a trolly with two large buckets filled with rice and daal respectively and some kind of vegetable concoction already served on those plates still manages to churn my stomach whenever I think of those days. Breakfast consisted of a runny porridge also served on plates which later somehow became my most favorite food at Pratt. Non-veg which consisted more of curry and less of meat was only served on weekends. One positive came out of this culinary experience - on my fist vacation back home I absolutely devoured anything that was served to me. From there on eating was never a problem and I could eat almost anything given to me without being picky. I truly began to appreciate food. Till date I hate wasting food - it reminds me of those days where I didn't have much to eat.

Talking about food - we did have a tuck locker back in our dorm area. This was the place which held the most precious of our possessions - little snack items that were sent from home. These were all kept locked and was given to us on weekends. I remember relishing each cream biscuit one lick at a time. There was also a guy who used to come to the hostel on weekends to sell cookies from his black trunk. He had these bright pink and white cookies that he sold for a few paisas. I would almost always spend my tuck money on those.

These days I'm served huge portions wherever I go to eat and I see the amount of food being wasted around me. It makes me sad and I remember those days as little girls when we would have given anything to eat the way we do now.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Growing Up in a Boarding School - The Beginning

My interview at Pratt Memorial School consisted of a spelling test. I had to
spell three words given to me by the principal. I had spelled one of them
wrong and was sad that I would not get admitted. The word was 'face' and I
had spelled it with an 's' even though I had known the spelling. Probably
because I was nervous. I was five.

I however did get admitted to that boarding school and was soon accompanied by pishimoni (aunt), ma (mom) and a black trunk filled with my belongings on my
first day there. I will come back to the trunk soon but right
away I need to tell you that I still remember the feeling I had in my
stomach that day as I was being dropped off. I did not shed a tear maybe
because I was too confused with the knots I was feeling deep inside me. It
was probably the calm before the storm - because later in my life there were
plenty of tears to make up for that one brave night and probably the most important moment in my life.

Coming back to the black trunk. It was an object of awe the very first time it came to the house. I don't know why exactly but maybe because it came with the significance of leaving home and entering into a brand new territory. I still remember my name and address being inscribed on it with white ink. It was like the most artistic and incredible thing I'd ever seen. Later that trunk became an integral part of my happy and sad moments both. It made me happy when it was brought out of the hostel storage - that meant I was going home on vacation and made me sad when I had to pack it at home at the end of a month long vacation.

But I digress. This post is about my first day at boarding school and even though we didn't have cameras back then to record first days of everything in our child's life - I still have a crystal clear picture of that night. The boarding section of the school was situated on the third floor of the very old building. It was built during the Britsh Raj and had grand staircases and huge windows (more like doors) with green shutters. After you climbed up the stairs to the third floor you entered into a long corridor that led to the Matrons room on the other end of it. The three dorms (junior, intermediate and senior)ran parallel to the corridor on its right. Our lockers and shoe racks ran along the two walls of the corridor and that is where we all conglomerated every night to polish our shoes in preparation for the next day.

And I've digressed again. It was late evening when we arrived at the hostel. It was already dark outside and all the dorms were empty. My place would of course be in the junior dorm and while my aunt spoke with the matron and handed her my belongings I was asked to walk into the dorm to take a look. As I did, I noticed a solitary girl standing at the other end of the dorm looking out from the window. I went up to her and asked her her name. She had the same last name as mine and I took that as a sign and we became best of friends for the next few years. She told me that it was a special night and so all the other girls were in a common room watching TV. She stayed back because she was missing her mom who I found out some time later was no longer alive.

It was because of her my first day there didn't seem as bad. That night when I lay in my bed amongst almost a hundred other girls of different ages and backgrounds, I realized my life had just begun and little did I know those were the years that would make me who I am today.

Tota Bhowmik - wherever you are, this post is for you!

Monday, July 04, 2011

Following dreams

Thanks to my daughter I've watched the movie Tangled close to a hundred times (not an exaggeration)and surprisingly each time I've LOVED it and wished I was the lost princess who is finally able follow her dreams. One thing I've realized while growing up is that I have always lived a life that was deemed right and proper by someone else. Even the dreams were more or less set for me. I'm not saying I've had a bad life - but it was mostly not of my own choice. I think a lot of my friends from India have been in similar situations and felt the same way, yet we always end up doing what we think everyone else will think is right. Now that I am a mother such expectations are much greater. Every step I take I have to be convinced I am doing the right thing for her.

Deep down inside I know whatever I do, I will always have her best interest in mind and will not love her any less. I hope she grows up living her dreams and knows it is okay for everyone else around her to do so. As we sit and watch Tangled for the 101st time and she tries to braid my hair, I foresee a strong, beautiful and independent girl following her dreams just like the lost princess Rapunzel (even though her hair takes forEVER to grow):)

Happy 4th readers and here's hoping you are all following your dreams or are at least trying to do so.

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Last Wish(es)

Okay, so according to Harold Camping the world comes to an end tomorrow which is all fine and dandy and I plan to have an equally “exciting” life with the zombies but I quite honestly don’t want to be stuck within gray cubicles my last day. I definitely want to be in a beach sipping cocktails as per my FB status RIGHT NOW! Okay – have to admit it has nothing to do with the world ending and all – I want to be on a beach and not working – ANYWAYS! But if the world were to end I would be pissed because there are too many things on my to-do list before I die:

• African Safari
• Taj Mahal on a full moon night
• Dinner at the Caves in Jamaica
• Houseboat stay in Kashmir
• A few nights at the Udaipur Palace
• Palace on Wheels
• Backwaters of Kerela
• Trek (whatever I can) the Himalayas
• Go on a date with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Saif Ali Khan and Aamir Khan (I’ve been dreaming of them lately – maybe it’s a sign!)
• Learn belly dance, hip-hop and kathak
• Get into a size 4 dress
• Get my nose pierced – yes, AGAIN
• Learn to bake – I WILL eventually
• Shop irrespective of what’s on sale
• Be the world’s best mom
• Adopt a child
• Contribute to society to my best abilities
• Eradicate folks who have nothing better to do than proclaim the world is coming to an end.

• And most importantly TRAVEL THE WORLD and Win a lottery!

I’m sure I’ve missed many things (as I said, way too much to do before I die) but it was fun trying to think of all the things I still want to do. Also, I’m just waiting what these folks will have to say on Sunday. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Encounter

You know you’ve been married to the same guy for way too long when... are at the ATM depositing a check and you smell the most sensuous cologne that makes you turn around and want to hug what you see. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fame & Fortune

When I was in high school, my grandparents once had a puja at their house that I of course arrived late to after my day in school. It worked out perfect since it was time for Prasad and I gorged on ‘luchi’ and ‘payesh.’ While eating I eyed my grandmother whisper something to the pundit’s ear. Later when he came up to me and took my palm in his hand I knew exactly what my grandmother had said.

So in the middle of a large room full of relatives and relatives of relatives (you get what I’m trying to say here) my future was bestowed upon me. The lines of my palm revealed both fame and fortune in my future. Well of course that made me want to believe in palmistry and made me very very happy till the wait got only too long.

In case you were wondering…I ended up with neither. The reason behind this sudden spark of memory being a recent invitation to judge the DHIM-TANA music and dance competition in the bay area where I was told I would be aired on TV 9 both here and in India. Imagine my reaction – finally chances of becoming famous!!! So what if it was only in Andhra? I just might become a Tollywood star and then maybe move on to Bollywood! The doors to fame were opening. I could almost see that pundit’s face. I was sooo close.

Well, let’s just say it didn’t go as planned and I ended up coming back to my ordinary life writing for my ordinary blog. The camera did not pan to where the judges were seated, as it remained focused on the stage. But all jokes apart, I’m glad it was that way. The young talent I saw on stage that day was quite breathtaking as well as inspiring. Once I was able to get past the Carnatic music competition (no offence…its just not for me!) my eyes, just like the camera, were glued to the stage. The melodious voices, breathtaking dances and exuberant costumes blew my mind and showed the hard work and commitment these kids ranging from as young as 6 years to teenagers were capable of. I just wanted to take this opportunity to let our kids know we are very proud of you and all that you achieve in your lifetime. I’ve barely achieved half of what you already have and nowhere close.

My only hope for that day’s performers is that amidst your race for becoming doctors and engineers may you not lose sight of the amazing talent you have and hope some of you will continue to keep your art form alive. And even though I don’t know a damn thing about palmistry, but some of you out there, if you keep doing what you are, you have a pretty good chance of fame and fortune in your future. By all means you were all stars in my eyes.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I Do Exist

Yes, I know I just dropped off from the face of this earth or so it seems. Quite honestly, I am still playing catch up ever since I returned from vacation. Ah yes, vacation, need more of those in my life. What an incredible trip it was with my little one. 2 countries, 3 cities, 2 weddings and 2 dance workshops all in three weeks. Friends, family and food galore. Some friends I met after nearly a decade. That's how long I've been in Sacramento and yet every time I go back it seems like it was just the other day.

So much has happened since I got back that I cannot wrap my thoughts around all of it at the moment. I received a call this morning from a friend in India who was wondering why I stopped writing and so I thought I'd at least make a reappearance. I'm sad I missed Evani's turning 4 post. Life has been incredibly busy, but here's hoping I will stop to smell the roses.