Dating !…of sorts…

I spotted you from a distance…. As you stood under a tree
The sun shone upon you, as you basked in all its glory
Your eyes, with pleasure alight, upon the tot at your knee
And I saw a ray of hope –  a kindred soul in thee

 

As I approached you, you noticed me and I smiled shabbily
You narrowed eyes appraisingly, as I stood so flabbily,
I tried some witty remark on weather that I offered as a bait
I thanked my stars in my mind, that finally someone worth I met

 

Then we exchanged pleasantries and chatted for a while,
And what I learned about you then, really made me smile
You stayed nearby and came to the park daily at this hour,
You too were seeking to meet someone these days that had been so dour

 

Accidentally daily at same time we seemed to bump always
One day at park, my heart hummed its time to seek the ways
To spend more time with this one, she’s the keeper you see
So I gathered my wits and my courage and invited her for tea

 

We bonded over diaper brands, we gushed over babyfoods,
We shared agonies with each other complaining about our broods
Dear reader, the rest is history, of this love story of sorts,
Its about one mom dating another one, now control your snorts…

 

The end!

Probably I have overused the poetic license , but these or any other words wouldn’t do justice to one important agony of the mom life! Finding new friends – er make it new mom friends.

Mom dating! Yes, Mom dating is the term for it, and about accurate and succinct description – of the struggles one faces as a mom, trying to make friends with other moms. This agony may not be faced by every mom. But many of the first time moms (that’s FTMs in modern mom world lingo) that have willingly opted to be a stay at home mom (SAHM – another modern mom world lingo aka MMWL), do face it. Like any other decision taken in the heat of the moment – where we later try to justify it  (including that of marrying, having a child and so on) (LOL) – the decision to quit job never really estimates the impact of lack of regular (almost constant) adult interaction, that makes up for even the lack of social life otherwise, in some cases (like mine to an extent when I was working in India with 14-15 working hours a day). Working moms have colleagues for some sensible adult conversation throughout the day. They connect over one common aspect – work. Whether they like each other or not, they must accept each other. It is sort of God given (or fate given – take your pick) arrangement, where you need do nothing. You can meet your other friends during the weekends – but mostly you are busy with chores on weekends – and spending valuable time with your kids. There is no time to feel , think etc.

For us SAHFTMs (Ha! I just thought of it) – life is all fun initially until the extended break seems to be extending towards infinity. You spend your day cleaning, bathing, feeding (rinse and repeat) ,putting them to sleep, obsessing over number of feeds, number of poops, colour of poops, figuring out exactly why the baby cried and so on… I have elaborated more than enough I suppose. It is a mix of awesome, fun and frustration in equal measures and worth every moment spent in doing these I agree. But as days go by , and the signs of clinginess of the baby don’t dissipate,  you do miss some adult conversation. The husband being the only remaining earning member of the family, cannot cater to this whim exactly when you feel like it – like when the baby is asleep in the afternoon or when out for evening stroll, since he is probably stuck in some corner of his office, trying to make sense of something on his work screen. Plus who would really want to bond with you to discuss your frustrations about a diaper rash cream , a baby detergent and so on??? Unless that person is a mom of a similar aged baby herself!!! That’s why SAH-Mom dating is needed. Some adult conversation, similar concerns and so on!

But what is the reason for a blog post if it was as smooth a sailing as in the poem above, which is just a figment of my imagination. In reality, if you notice someone at the park, in all likelihood they already belong to some mom-clique and will tend to ignore you. If this important hurdle is crossed, probably you have won half the battle. If not, then park probably was not the right place for you. You need to find other places – like playgroup drop off and pick up area, playgym / music / activity classes etc.  You cannot be seen looking shabbier than your mom-target, nor can you look unachievably chic holier than thou (though sometimes it could lead to aspirational popularity  – because everyone always wants to be friends with the cool chic mom in the class/area isn’t it?) You try to bond over clothing, stroller brands, parenting style and passing judgements about how other moms are acting (and in a way try to know each other’s compatibility).  You start discussions with discussing number and quality of playgroups in the area (I tried this), saying – “how has been your experience of ____ playgroup? Would love your honest feedback.” You send Facebook friend requests and then compliment now and then on their photos whenever you possibly can.  You receive and give compliments on baby clothes, get asked about doctors and so on. All this can be asked genuinely too of course, but these conversations, if happening too frequently are “masked friendship requests” so to say :-D. Sometimes, your “friendship requests” are met with a royal ignore. You do wonder things like – am I not interesting? Not funny? Am I not cool enough and so on –how easy it was during childhood. My toddler shares his toys with people he likes. If someone doesn’t play with him, he moves on…after 3.5 decades of life, such rejections are hard on your ego….

All in all, making mom friends is hard. Just like romantic dating I would say. Similar level of uncertainty and bruises to ego, which become more difficult to bear because of the advanced age (as compared to the romance years) I’d say, if you meet someone, keep the momentum of friendship going, because you never know- the 15 days you were absent from park were enough for your target mom to meet someone new and move on

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The cat who… got lucky!

At the outset, I am NOT a Hello Kitty aficionado.

In fact, this post is specifically to ponder over the unbelievable popularity of Hello Kitty. In general, most of the popular characters have followed commonly trodden path of first being introduced through comics or cartoon series and subsequently have found themselves being peddled as various kinds of merchandise. Clothes, accessories, toys, paraphernalia. Hello kitty as per my knowledge is the only such extremely famous character which has traveled a reverse journey. First, as a bag and subsequently in other merchandise and a few years later into cartoon. If there are others as grand and as famous who have emerged in similar manner, I am not aware of them of course.

In India, I have seen Hello Kitty in various forms, especially on bags and lunchboxes, ribbons and dresses of little girls, which, I have to conclude were illegal imitations, now looking at the price of its official merchandise in various stores in Indonesia. I had always wondered back when I was a kid, who Hello Kitty was, because unlike other cartoons I had never come across animated series of Hello Kitty. Years passed and cut to present years in Indonesia, where I came face to face to the gigantic brand that Hello Kitty is and was astounded by its penetration at so many levels in the merchandise world. I was particularly flabbergasted to notice she was on this packet of sugar :-D.

IMG_20140629_143358

I mean, though I have studied finance,  subconsciously one does ponder brand association with products every now and then. How is Hello Kitty relatable with a day to day item which is used thoughtlessly? Maybe they want to say the sugar is as sweet and the character Hello Kitty is sweet natured too. Though, since Hello Kitty is almost a collectible brand now, one would think, they’d skip merchandising it in form of a generic consumable like sugar.

Kudos to its creator, Yuko Shimizu, who, in comparison with the Disneys of the world, did not have to even create a story for her character to sell so much of the merchandize 😊 . Today, as per Wikipedia, Hello Kitty is a USD 5 Bn brand, as per this article, it is USD 7 Bn.

On the other hand, was there a dearth of cute comic characters? There wasn’t. There were cute care bears for example, the popular series during late 80s and 90s when I grew up. Remember seeing them in Archies greetings too. They have faded now. But Hello Kitty, which was ‘born’ even earlier (is apparently 43 now) than these bears, is still thriving, and is being followed; my niece aged 7 for example is a big fan and owns everything Hello Kitty from erasers, dresses, books, toys and all-that-you-can-have. Though many who were her fans in childhood are now adults and have her as tattoos for example. The Taiwanese Eva airlines has her on their planes and in flight merchandise apparently!

Really, is Hello Kitty that unique? I personally am not really into Hello Kitty (or any character, or a film personality, star, singer and so on), so I cannot understand this phenomenon of mass following, especially the owning of merchandise, posters, dresses etc. Sometimes I feel this tendency of mass following has got to do with feeling some sort of sense of belonging. The fans belong together in celebration of something. An exclusivity etc. Despite the great many explanations on Hello Kitty phenomenon, including by people who have studied her for decades apparently and explained how her lack of mouth is adaptable and empowering to women etc., I just believe Hello Kitty and its promoter company got lucky to put it simply! Despite other Kawaii or cute characters in Japan, only one was picked up the world over…. By luck., and congratulations to its promoter company Sanrio for that!

The Key to knowing Bahasa street style

Sample this – random texting between my husband and his friend:

Husband – Hey, long time , lets catch up!

(I am sure, the real message was even shorter. Something like – ‘Let’s meet’ or even ‘Meet me’ or ‘Meet!’ – all of this is probable considering my husband’s low patience for all sorts of texting, further tempered by the fact that it wasn’t his client)

Friend – Hey, sure! Let’s meet at Kunci? (Knowing his friend too, I know it was much shorter reply 😀 )

So, my baffled husband turns and asks me – “do you know a place called Kunci? “

Ever proud of my own better Bahasa Indonesia skills (only as compared to my husband), I set him correct. “Kunci? Come on! Kunci means a Key Swapnil, a K-E-Y! Key! That which helps to lock and open the door??”

He made a noncommittal noise and went back to messaging, then smiled looking at me. “You’re wrong. Apparently Kunci means mall Kuningan City”.

We spent a moment in amused laughter. In almost 6 years of my residence here in Indonesia, one thing never ceases to amuse and baffle me. Its the abbreviations created by people. The local slang language or ‘Bahasa Jalan’ (Street language) as they call it , has evovled a ‘tendency’ to create short cuts. I call it tendency because I notice this leaning towards shortforms in almost every sphere of local life. I have come across abbreviated forms of so many unexpected words, places, things and so on, that sometimes, when I learn a new word, I ask the native Bahasa speaker if it is a shortform or a real word.

So you have shorter names for malls like Mangdu for Mangga Dua, Kokas for Kota Kasablanka, Sensi for Senayan City and so on. Not just malls, even place names become shortforms and you tend to get confused. Once while reading a running race schedule, I noticed the location was Jakpus. I got quite confused before realising that in all probability it was Jakarta Pusat  (Central Jakarta). Similarly Jaksel, Jakut and Jaktim. Names too do get shortened here, say a Wijayanto becoming Yanto, Arianto becoming Ari and Christina sometimes being called Tina! Which I guess is the only abbreviation, commonly practised throughout the world. 😊

While these abbreviations are mainly a part of street language, they are formally used sometimes  – such as Jakpus / Jaksel on the website of that racing community. The national monument in Jakarta is called Monas, which is shortened ‘Monumen Nasional’ . There are many communities with shortened name. Certain ‘national communities for so and so’ being called Komnas __ ___. Even the ministries have faced same fate. Kemenkes for example means Kementerian Kesehetan (Health Ministry) . Minsitry for information and broadcasting is called Kemkominfo and formally so.

Once while travelling I came across a series of shops named Warkop. Example – Warkop Ibu Yeni , Warkop Pak Nurul and so on. I wondered aloud what warkop meant. Our driver informed us – it was Warung dan Kopi (Snack and coffee).

With so many shortforms floating around, you would think, that there wont be many long words in Bahasa Indonesia. That’s extremely far from truth. To get a taste of the long words, one glance at newspapers is enough. Sometimes the words seem so long to me, that I wonder when they will end , even while reading them 😊. All in all , maybe these long words are what prompted the locals to start with shortforms. Whatever it takes to make communication easy! Only, they should have this kunci (Word key) for us newcomers though and regularly update it. That will make our life easier. 😊

 

Achche Din

I had created this cartoon on Bitstrips to share amongst the friends as an announcement of my pregnancy. I found it today while cleaning my mailbox and thought of preserving here permanently. It comes off a bit silly now, for sure, but since I was trying to be funny back then, it really feels in line with that intention now.

Bitstrips has ever since stripped off its own existence. It was fun though, to create cartoons, and then check out other users’ who were mostly teenagers and probably had no idea it was a lady in 30s whom they were encouraging through their comments on my cartoons 😀

 

Acche Din

 

 

The greenery and the scenery amidst the traffic

One of the things I love about Jakarta is its greenery. I haven’t really traveled to many commercial centers beyond India and some regions of SE Asia. However, having lived majority of my life in Mumbai, the most important commercial city in India, I find myself pleasantly surprised by Jakarta, almost every time I step out. The city is still green thankfully and that creates pleasant vistas within concrete jungles. Sure, Jakarta doesnt have huge public parks that many other (mainly western) cities are known to boast about. But it has enough greenery to cool down your eyes amidst the super horrible traffic that it is known for. I live in almost CBD area and across my home is a boulevard laced with lush evergreen trees. I would also love taking a walk around my office area, which too boasts of lush greenery. This post is just to share some pix of the greenery that I took in during my post lunch walk around my office block. One more aspect that I miss about my work 🙂

Rants of a stay at home mom!

With the birth of your child, comes the birth of your new role as a parent and your whole life changes. It is true, everyone says that. But one more change, that happened in my life as a new parent – which may or may not happen in case of other parents – was my transition into being a full time stay at home mom. Making this decision was not easy for me, having worked for several years, usually long working hours for a majority of my career in India mainly. Making this decision in Indonesia was even harder than quitting my job in India (to relocate to Indonesia). In addition to excellent work culture and learning, important fact was that I was staying very close to my office and that provided me with good amount of work life balance. However we had to make this decision till we were convinced of a good child care option.

During my youth I was extremely influenced by a book called ‘A road less travelled’ by M Scott Peck, the psychologist, who had contended that a significant part a person’s nature/personality is determined by how s/he is raised till the age of 4. I had determined to myself back then (when I was around 19-20 and really inexperienced in the ways of world in general and ways of parenting in particular) that I would take a career break if need be and really raise my child in the most ideal manner etc. Blah blah blah…. Cut to present day and I find myself missing those early morning market and current affairs analyses during team discussions, deadlines, meeting clients- here it was even more interesting because different language posed new challenges. The tea time converations, and so on. With so many years of working behind me, how could I believe that I would be immediately okay with the sudden end to it? This was in a sense me time. I never realised how much I have enjoyed my work before I had to shut my shop so to say and sit at home. Raising child in ideal manner etc was thrown out of the window, the day I gave my child my mobile phone to watch youtube for a while so that I could drink my tea in peace.  There is no ideal. Parenting is always about uncertainty and guilt. I learned soon, sadly.

Yes, it is mainly the work-life, the excitement of working on a new project/case, new sector, the rush of chasing a deadline… all these things is what I am reminded most sorely. This was also my personal space. Socialising has definitely reduced, but I was more or less prepared for it,having noticed change in the lives of new parents around me.

Is it wrong of me to think of my worklife since my priorities have changed? I do not feel guilty, despite being subjected to constant judgement the moment I mention this. As a new mother, every woman is subject to constant judgement anyway, so I have taken it in a stride. I do enjoy being at home and being available through all milestones and stages of my child for sure. I have enjoyed it to the fullest and am most thankful for this opportunity. Not many have this luxury. At the same time, I remember how wonderful I felt while working too. The sense of independence , confidence in my work etc were wonderful to experience. On some days, I envy those who have resumed working and on others, I am extremely thankful for being at home with my child.

Not a unique rant, I know. Many must have gone through it, many must have either resumed or reconciled to staying at home. But sure, most of them would have ranted atleast for a while, and it is my turn today!

This blog is not dead….

This post comes after a gap of closer to 2 years. Wow! I never realised it had been that long since I updated. The real life had taken over. I was completely immersed in taking care of my baby, who now, as a toddler still commands most of my time. Therefore I cannot make commitment to myself to write regularly. But yes, I will be writing more often. Now that my toddler is getting more and more independent, I do find myself with some time to spare. Especially, the lack of regular adult conversation (with friends) these 2 years past, has made me realise the need to gather my thoughts and ponder on something that doesnt involve meals, sleep schedules, poops, toys and so on. Living in a foreign country, you do get used to a pattern of friendships that ebb and flow with several incoming and outgoing expats and if you are the one that stays at a place for long time, you do get used to welcoming new comers with enthusiasm, building friendships over the period only to bid them good byes with aplomb…. In short, in 2016/17, 4 of my friends relocated. That made the need for this kind of conversation with myself more apparent. However, whatever spare time I would have, would be spent in browsing through yet another parenting group or article or milestones update from the babycenter … LOL.

However, lately, I began missing this whole process more and more. Writing usually always allows me to come to a conclusion if I am stumbling. It always brings me at peace. It always makes me more and more in tune with myself and that is why I always think it is one of my greatest friends. So I do see myself writing more and often on this blog again….