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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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….

Bucketlist – Things I’d love to do on a day off.

Today, I took an off. Was tired of routine. Was unwell too. So just thought of pausing for a moment. It wasn’t an ideal day though – nevertheless, I felt much better for it. I thought of listing things I’d do on an ideal day off 🙂

  1. I’d wake up to cool morning breeze and lightening sky. Would love to take in the calmness of early morning. Peace and quiet. Just be. Take in lovely pink and orange hues of the skies.
  2. Make myself a cup of steaming ginger-flavored tea, listening to the early morning classical raagas. Just absorbing every taan, aalap, every nuance of a bandish… experiencing its mood, sentiment, just dissolving my existence, going to faraway places within that song – that raag. Its been ages that I have done this…. I guess these days, early mornings are all about getting breakfast ready / lunch boxes ready.
  3. Would then go for a walk on the podium. It is lovely around 7 here. Much brighter than I would like, but on an off day, I am hardly going to wake up too early 🙂 . What I love about Jakarta most is its green surroundings. At least compared to Mumbai, where I lived most of my life, this city is several times greener. Evergreen trees laden in their full glory all the time. 🙂 No fall here … The facility management of this apartment complex has done lovely landscaping work and maintained well all these years. Its a pleasure to walk on the podium – especially when it is less crowded. Mild morning weather, chirpy birds, green grass, evergreen trees, flowers… would just take in everything. The hibiscus near swimming pool with bright pink blossoms, frangipanis  just about everywhere, dotted with yellow flowers, at times which are scattered on the lawns below, making a beautiful picture. I would stop to notice the toddlers over at the kiddie-swimming pool. Their laughter and bright faces will be sure to set my mood. Maybe, I will just sit on one of the benches for a while, all by myself  – just observing. Just being. Doing nothing.
  4. I would return home to be served delicious breakfast. On a day off, I wouldn’t have had to bother about deciding the menu or even cooking it. I’d just get it ready in my hands. I would eat it while scanning through the morning papers. I’d find just the right news to debate with my husband and chat leisurely. Or just to talk about nothing and everything. No rush to get to the work – no rush to be on time anywhere. No meetings, no deadlines, no notes to be written, no follow – ups.
  5. I’d then tidy up and just lounge about with a favourite book to read. I think I haven’t read a book end to end for quite a while now. It would be fun to just read for 3-4 hours at a stretch.
  6. It would then be lunch time and miraculously home made lunch would be ready waiting for me 🙂 On weekdays, I cook only a part of my morning meals, and on a day off, I’d shirk from even that. It would be awesome to eat my favourite meal – varan-bhat-batata bhaji – poli – tup and limboo. Simple Maharashtrian fare. It would taste like my mum’s cooking.
  7. After lunch I’d probably watch some movie or tele-series, out of the collection of CDs that has been accumulating here over the last 2.5 years, but really never accessed yet….
  8. Or I’d go to a spa and pamper myself – especially my feet, I feel too worn out these days.
  9. Tea-time I’d just make some nice snacks. Try something new – and quick 😉
  10. I’d then make an hour – long call to some friend . Catch up. Laugh, cry and be happy. Maybe even gossip a bit.
  11. Husband would be back early from work. Or he too has stayed in and just lounged about with me. Maybe, we will go out for a nice dinner or just stay in. We will cook dinner together. I will cook and he will be with me in the kitchen, chatting about his day, maybe he will lend a hand. Would play some nice music – maybe consorto music? maybe Vivaldi’s four seasons while we cook. We’d have risotto, some bread and some salad. 🙂 Numero uno of comfort food.
  12. We’d then walk up to the terrace and just watch the city go to sleep. Try to catch some stars in the clouded skies of Jakarta. Or we’d take our sleeping bags and just lie down, listen to radio, playing old classics.

🙂 thinking up all these things in itself made me giddy with joy. Now I can’t wait for a real day off to arrive.

The culture of respect ?

“Ibu, aku terlambat , pesawat belum datang.” I heard a part of what my colleague was saying on phone. We were in Lombok, on an assignment and stuck at the airport. The plane taking us back to Jakarta had gotten delayed by 4 hours.  I had already called up my husband to inform and was waiting for my colleague to finish his call, before we went back to work related discussion again. “Ibu, nanti aku telepon ketika pesawat mendarat”. …

I was sort of surprised + impressed that he still calls his Ibu (Mum) first, even in his mid thirties. Indonesians are very close to their family – mostly like Indians, I had heard, but this was little out of ordinary for me.  I wouldn’t call my parents immediately under such circumstances, they need not know that I’m getting delayed and then worry about me. Maybe, he lives in a joint family. ‘The analyst’ started making her assumptions. Anyhow, after he hung up, I asked him how came he called his mother because she might worry unnecessarily. Indonesians do tend to ask even more personal questions and even to casual acquaintances or even strangers. Though I knew he wouldn’t have minded – he’s a friend.  Anyway, he did a double take – “Mother??, no, I called my wife”.  Then it was my turn to do a double take – “you  address your wife with ‘Ibu’?”. Till then, to me, Ibu meant only following things:

  1. Ibu is your own mother
  2. In formal situations, it is a title of respect – similar to ‘Madam’ – for someone senior in age / designation – mostly aged 30s and above.

So I was even more impressed with this colleague, who was addressing his wife ‘Madam’. Not jokingly, I could tell from his expressions. He added, “Of course, that’s what I always call her”.Having returned home, I mentioned this to a local friend and he set me correct. “We always call our spouses with the relevant title”. This was a shock and relief to me. After hearing the Bahasa Indonesia word for the word ‘husband’ – Suami, which has been derived from Sanskrit ‘Swami’ (master), I had been flabbergasted. So this new information was a happy shock.

 This means, husbands will call their wives – ‘Ibu’ (Madam) or Mbak (Miss) while addressing and wives will call their husbands  – Bapak/Pak (Sir), Mas (young sir I guess?) while addressing them. This to me initially seemed too formal, until I recollected that in many parts of India there still is culture of addressing significant other ‘aap’ (respect) irrespective of gender. Even kids . India always has culture of addressing husband as ‘aap’ – being the patriarchal society that it is. But in some areas even the wives are addressed in kind. In Maharashtrian culture too probably till last century I guess, the culture of calling significant other “tumhi” (respect) existed. However, I don’t think adding a title for those considered ‘junior’ was ever a part of our culture. Fortunately, today we have again gravitated to an era where genders are on equal footing when it comes to addressing each other (genders to come on equal footing in India in real sense will take probably couple of centuries more… but that is besides the point).

So, coming to the point, so far in my interactions, I haven’t come across anybody in this country, irrespective of his/her age, situation,  social status, profession etc, being addressed without title. Titles – Pak/Bapak, Mas, Mbak, Ibu, Nona (for young miss) etc are used in formal as well as casual situations. I guess, in situations with extreme familiarity, sometimes, you could be addressed only with your first name, parents calling their children etc.  I call some of my friends on first name basis, but I think their acceptance of it could be more to do with the fact that they understand differences in cultures.

To me it is amusing how the use of titles does not really impact the level of intimacy in this culture. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Indonesians are very genial? – that they always have given respect to anyone irrespective of their status / situation by addressing them with titles?  I can only make guesses.

Shoes that don’t fit (in my drawing room)

Why do some people wear their shoes indoors?

Or let me rephrase it – why do some people continue to wear the shoes that they wore outside, indoors as well? -in  their friend’s, or even their own house?

Till recently, I never really had to think about this question and likewise, I never really thought that I would one day explore in detail about its causes etc. I have been brought up in ‘No shoes at home’ manner –  and believed that this was Indian custom. A possibility that there existed any other way to behave  – than leaving shoes at the door when entering own/another’s house, didn’t even enter my mind for a long long time. However, times have changed and brought me into contact with people who wear shoes into the house.

Our Indonesian acquaintances have never done this. So no question of this being attributable to the diverse culture. They have always removed their shoes. The people who wore shoes indoors were in fact Indians. Belonging to a particular part of India. I do not want to pinpoint it – So let me leave it at that.

There have been instances, of people from this particular part of India walking in, either alone /in a group and walking in with their shoes, noticing that the hosts (us) are barefoot and yet continuing to move about the house wearing their shoes / chappals/ sandals. When they came in as a part of a group, they still kept their shoes on while the others removed their footwear. As hosts, so far we have said nothing, but I was shocked to see this repeatedly ever since I moved here. And only by people from one specific part of India.

To me, shoes worn outside are dirty and unhygienic. They must be carrying not only dirt and dust but who knows , even bacteria/fungi and what not from various public places that they’ve been worn to. Removing them means avoiding infesting the host’s house with that dirt. I guess, this is how I was brought up. Both India and Indonesia are countries where hygiene at public places can be an issue and people staying in either of these countries should be mindful of this. Further, noticing that the hosts (As well as other guests when they remove shoes,) are barefoot, and still continuing to wear shoes despite of that, is sort of arrogant and disrespectful.

I try and request those who are friends, and they do listen. However, this doesn’t guarantee that they’d remember next time. The job of reminding is quite embarrassing then. That apart, usually as a host it is a dilemma whether requesting the guests to remove shoes will give offence, some of them being my husband’s business associates. I guess, I never really imagined that Indians would do this. Most of the non – Indians ASK you – if they need to remove the shoes. They are very mindful about differences in the culture. Desi guests however neither ask nor are they expected to be unaware. Following rules at the host’s place is not culture specific I think. It is universal.

Anyway, after one more such experience yesterday, when some of my husband’s Indian associates came over for dinner and a couple of them promptly ignored that both the hosts and some of their colleagues had removed footwear, I was forced to think about the possible reasons for this practice of wearing shoes indoors. I came up with –

  1. Weather – People from this community in India belong to a region which can get too hot or too cold. Maybe the floor heats up or gets stark cold and you need to protect the feet. In this case well – this is Jakarta. Perennially stuck at 32 degrees celsius and definitely neither too hot nor too cold.
  2. Some people have ‘house slippers’ or house footwear.  – Basically they constantly wear something in their feet till they go to sleep. Yes, many people in my family too do this. However, the house footwear is not same as outdoor footwear and if they go to someone’s place for couple of hours, they probably can survive without footwear. Some families I know keep spare house footwear for guests. I haven’t done it so far and I don’t think it is practical especially when you are hosting a number of people at the same time.
  3. Some people have health issues or some injury – in which case it is understandable. However I guess this would be exception and even the hygiene-OCD affected people will accommodate such guests.

I could not think about a ‘culture’ specific reason  – none of the above is specific to that culture. Many people live in areas in India which have extreme climates. Not just this particular part of India. Anyway, I found a thread on metafilter discussing exactly this – but in the western countries. This was new to me. I had imagined that US and UK have colder climes and hence probably they must be wearing shoes inside the house. But I had no idea that in many parts, its the same pair of shoes that is worn outside the house. I find it amusing (because its not in my own house of course 😉  ) that some even wear shoes on their beds. But this thread gave many reasons why a person might be wearing same pair of shoes inside the house, what they wore outside.

Anyhoo, my rant is done. Time to sign off. In case anyone knows any cultural reasons why some INDIANS might be wearing their outdoor shoes indoors, please let me know.

My Mum (Always) Never….

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My Mum (Always) Never....

Story of my life

Happy 7th anniversary!

Two days ago, I happened to log into the wordpress for commenting on someone else’s blog that I had landed on, while researching on a work-related subject.

And suddenly, a message flashed on my dashboard! Happy Anniversary with wordpress.com. You registered on wordpress 7 years ago!

Wow! has it been so long? I guess the number of my posts don’t indicate so. I have been a sporadic writer here. Before my marriage, I was writing at Sense and Nonsense. For some personal reasons I quit writing there as I moved to Indonesia, and ever since have been writing here.

The occasional nature of my writing and the time and again public declarations of aim to write more regularly seem to have remained same over last 7 years. Nevertheless, I continue to update this blog whimsically. Its not that I have nothing to write about, its just that I am simultaneously active on multiple forms of social media including twitter, linked in, Quora, pinterest, youtube and so on. Apart from this, more personal versions of the social media – including whatsapp, viber, google hangouts and so on keep me active throughout the day -sometimes in measures that border on the lines of ‘over exposure’ to these media. Well, since I usually say a lot at these sites, I have not bothered to update this blog in a long time. At times however there is a need for introspection / thinking / self – time/ sharing something in long winded manner, which none of the other media can fulfill in this era of microblogging…..and so, I am thankful for this blog. 🙂

Again, with the never dampening aim of updating this blog more often,

Adios….