Identity crisis

The following link has been sitting in my drafts ever since I came across it.

http://www.indiatimes.com/culture/who-we-are/dhoni-kohli-and-rahane-have-changed-the-names-on-their-jersey-and-the-reason-is-quite-legit-263656.html

Has this not been there for a long time? I remember a dialogue from an old Revathi movie – Marupadiyum where she says she wants to be her not carry her father’s name, nor a husband’s.

This had been something I argued about when a “friend” told me I “had to” change my surname cos I was married. I said, I would change if P changed his [ note: P never asked me then to change my name, he did later mention it in our many tiffs 🙂 ] since he married too! That suggestion was not welcome much!! Glad I didn’t change, less of a hassle considering what happened 🙂

Now A wants to drop his last name. Told him he can decide to do whatever when he is an adult. Now he carries whatever it says on his birth certificate. I don’t know if he will drop his last name, change it to something else (he says he will take my name or last name; or my grandpa’s last name; his gothra…choices are many).

So is it a case of rose by any other name?

This name thing apart, when like all out there, (or is it all out there??) I battle with the question of who am I? I have had many labels stuck on me. Some good, mostly bad ones. I am told by well meaning friends they don’t define me. How I look? What I am at work/home? Age? Education? Status? I have no clue! Wondering what I would tell my son when he asks the same questions….a cryptic find yourself?! Wouldn’t that be cheating?!

What is my identity? How will I be remembered? Someone who bungled her way along and failed in/ didn’t complete anything undertaken? A bad mother/sister/daughter/friend/student.(…and of course wife 🙂 ) I know I have written about what success can be…at the moment, I feel like nothing ever will go right…ever in life. Do some wrong decisions spoil your entire life? Yes is my answer today! I have made a series of such wrong decisions! Will I never do anything right in my life? Let me guess…nope never!

Today is a day when I am not able to just smile away and show that nothing is wrong. Today is a day when I cannot just hear hey get over it, move on or anything that shows no empathy/sympathy. Today is a day when I cannot overlook people who have cheated me & taken me for a ride (emotionally/monetary/professionally…). Today is a day I wish I had someone to share my woes with , to hear reassuring words even if they were false.  Today is a day I feel (and know) that I am a nobody; going nowhere. No….am not okay with it but feel helpless that I am not able to change this status quo. Yes, am on the other side of forty and have no clue! Yes I feel terrible. Yes….it probably is too late.

PS: Part of me does not feel like publishing this post. Part of me wants to cry out aloud.If anyone has come this far in the post, please do give a shout out so I can thank you for tolerating my rant!

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Thoughts on Independence Day 

Everyone wishing each other a ” happy Independence Day”. As a friend pointed out, irony is us wishing each other in a language left by those from whom we got our independence. At least one channel showing Gandhi. “Patriotic” few pinning flags on their clothes, raising the flag in housing communities, some listening to the PM’s speech ( eloquent orator he is… Some complaining he is doing it in Hindi! ). A few looking at Independence Day sales. That is the day here. 

We here are a hypocritic nation. We take pride in knowing English and getting business. The same hate it and ridicule those who speak English ( call them Peter & Philomina… May be it is a Tamil thing… Still ), hate it when people say learn a different regional language other than your native tongue.  A nation that loves love stories like the one on titanic of glorify love without boundaries but have moral policing! A nation that bows to the divine female say that even God is Ardhanarishwara but treat women like doormat. A country where sports is just a free period that is taken over if other important subjects need to be completed! Yet the few who fight the odds and go represent their country in events are expected to perform miracles, rake in medals!! Let me not even get started with this division based on caste, religion. I am in a country where laws are there to be broken and one can get away with it if you have the clout. I live in a country where you follow the law get in say an accident when not at fault, you speak out and be chided ” hey how can you speak out being a woman?!” Yeah the country where the woman is glorified as “maa” ” Shakti” and what not!!  You have to mention your father’s or husband’s name on every official form!! Why?? 

The permission slip at the kid’s health room has “father’s/guardian’s signature”. I refused to sign saying am the mother or to be generic a parent. I get the nonchalant answer, strike out and write mother or parent as you please & sign. 

May be I have become cynical. May be I am just speaking my mind which others think but not say. Stuck in a country quite backward but thinks it is quite there in being developed. If this is the case in a metro don’t know how it is in other truly backward areas.  Living in a country that suddenly becomes patriotic two days in a year. 

Oh I have to relate this incident here. On the way back home in the local train… A couple of college gals. One asks you coming to college on Monday? The other says no I have to go to church. The former says on a Monday?? She says yeah I go on republic day! Seriously!!! ???? Patriotism rocks!! 😏

Am sure there has been enough of a rant about how people are so ready to enrage about things happening around the world (not all) but forget or ignore what is happening in their back yard or even in their own homes. 

Yes, I have heard that everywhere there are problems. I just wish we did not turn a blind eye to what happens here or create a furore when something is portrayed on media while things like that happen almost every other day! Forget it when the media does, then if it is a slow media day it gets highlighted as say some anniversary of the event. 

Gandhiji said when a woman can walk alone at night with no fear we have got Ram Rajya. No thank you! I don’t want Ram Rajya where the King ousts his wife just cos someone doubted her!! 

Rant over?? For now!! 

Edit: came to a movie and saw this caption ” Be proud to be an Indian not just on Independence Day ” 🙂

Nine years

Scrolling through the memories on Facebook … Saw posts of friends added over the years, down I went a picture of my nephews I added to the family album, the last entry in the list was “9 years ago today” the post I had put in at 6:09AM  ” in India :)” 

It hit me! It has been nine years when I bundled the toddler of a boy that A was then, with his infant speech, wide eyes, chubby squishy one he was…. Friendly moving in from the economy seating coolly to business class charming his way through!! We were blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead. Now he is 11. As he claims almost a teenager. Not that open & trusting. Just crossed a milestone. Had his upanayanam officiated by my parents. 


He loved it. Being the centre of attention, paid attention to what he was to chant taking in the pronunciations, meaning, significance. I certainly had pride welling inside of me – the boy he has become. No!! I didn’t feel I have done anything for that. It is all him. He is one strong willed, kind & caring boy!! He does have his flaws but hey who is perfect right?? 

Nine years since we were ousted from what we thought of as home. ( at least I did… Thinking A thought where Amma was , was his world then)  Still trying to find a footing, a place to call home. We have come a long way. Loads of people to thank who have helped us along the way. Hurdles crossed, small wins…. Still a long way to go. 

I have no clue what is next- work, personal life,kid….I am not going to say the worst is over, and good times are ahead. I would rather think there is worse to come, but believe that we , both A & I , have the strength to face and overcome that, take pleasure in the little joys, be thankful for small mercies. Even if there is a miraculous change, here is to hoping that we don’t forget the tough times we have been through. I hope I can help A not lose his childhood ( though a part of me knows he is tough because of what he has gone through. Scratch that tense & make it present.). 

Toast to the unknown future. ( even the next few hours in the day 🙂 )

Blessed

I am in Chennai and I am safe!! I say am blessed and so are we at home here. The area around our home was flooded but not our street alone!
My Experience:
December  1: By chance, I drove to work instead of taking the shuttle. Two of my friends came with me. The downpour had already started. A few of the places on the way were water logged. I had to take a particular road to get on to the highway, wherein I felt like I was steering a ship. Worried about the water around. Little did we know this was nothing! Reached office safe. After a few hours, many leads asked people to leave if they could. I ask mine & his response classic! (Did you ask the onsite manager you interact with? –  who happens to be in Chicago!). We manage to leave and two other girls ask to be dropped off on the way. Two of the girls worked out of another building. They were prevented from going out and had to sign release letters saying they were leaving on their own risk! We finally started. I was worried about getting the girls home safely! As I got out of our office, the water was flowing on the road like a river with huge rocks being carried. They were hitting the bottom of the car. After slow driving, we did reach the highway. I did manage to drop the girls off safely. Had I reached even five minutes later, I would not have been able to take the road home as I pass through a low bridge over a rivulet that flooded that early on and was closed! Blessing!! Miracle!! By then, there was no power at home. The UPS was on. My neighbour asked my father to get some ration from the nearby grocers before they close up. We did along with some basic veggies. [The grocer sold almost a month’s sale on that one day! Veggies were being sold at a premium as expected] By the time dinner was prepared, the UPS ran out and we plunged into darkness. The mobiles lost network.
December 2: Rain poured. No clue what was happening in the world outside. It kept pouring! We managed through the day rationing use of water wondering when the rains would stop and when the power will be back on.
Following days:  News started trickling in about flooding in various areas. I was worried about what I would do once water levels rise and if it entered our home. How do I manage my mum who is bedridden? What about my old father and A? I had an emergency bag with basic documents packed and ready. Was planning on how I will either take my mum upstairs or how I can get a boat if it comes to that…

Still no power, landline also got severed. So totally cut off now. Our street was still dry. We went back to stone age. Thanked the building contractor who insisted we have a well in the house. We drew water from it with a pulley. The water was soft & clear. So, we could boil and use it for drinking! Our neighbours also used the well thanking us! No mixer grinder, meaning we used the roller stone for grinding. Yeah the taste was better! :). Sweeping and mopping – no vacuum cleaner. Candle light & oil lamps lit our homes. We woke up early to get things done, went to bed early without needing to catch a program on TV or that last minute social media update. Dug out the old transistor radio and found that there were helplines being set up. The way people were being rescued. Neighbours told us about how badly nearby areas were affected. Milk being sold at exorbitant prices (Blessing again that our neighbour was a milkman and was still supplying the fresh cows milk as usual). We finally got to see and interact with each other on the street. Honestly, felt good to be away from technology (yeah people around were worried…still…back to old age was good)
Rains stopped for a while. I was standing out with my father & A talking to some people! I find a schoolmate riding on his scooter. He came all the way to check if we were alright at home as we could not be reached! Another friend came the next day when it was raining!!! Here I was thinking if I disappeared, no one would bat an eyelid! Hit me as to how grossly wrong I was!!!
Saturday early morning: power was restored.  Only my mobile came back to life (patchy though). Managed to send word that we are safe! Astounded by the number of people who were trying to find out if we were fine especially being in a badly affected area. Blessed is an understatement!!

December 6, Sunday: A turned 11. Low key! All his friends had left Chennai as their homes have been affected badly. One of his best friends sends a birthday message and calls in saying he is in Bangalore. A is thrilled to see the messages. It took a while for me to respond to all the queries of if I am alive! 🙂 . Realisation of how much we depend on the phones was sinking in (also how we did manage without them too!).

Slowly realised life was back to normal. By Tuesday Dec 8th, I was on my way to work on the office shuttle. Relief work still going on high steam in horribly affected areas.

Life goes on…. (another realisation. Not just for me who was hardly hit but even those who lost their homes.)

The autowala I use in the morning said he lived on the second floor but his auto was submerged and there was about two feet water above his auto. It took him almost a week to get the auto started and repaired to make it ready to get his livelihood. My maid said the water had reached the roof of her home & they were evacuated to a relief camp in a school. Simple things…she said she was given a saree, no blouse/ in skirt. She asks how do I wear the saree? A’s school is badly damaged – the library, the offices, the dining spaces, accounts department – pretty much everything on the ground floor all under water. My friend’s homes have been affected. This flooding has spared very few! Regardless of how rich or poor…

It saw people just pouring in to help. Mood was not why? but what can I do? even if it is in a small way – what do I do? Those who themselves were affected jumped in to make sure the city is back on it’s feet. No fanfare, no hey am busy doing so much…. Those who could be on the ground were there, those who were away coordinated with the givers, those in need and those who went to supply. It seemed to work as a well oiled machine. In most places now, it looks like life is back to normal. Relief work has moved to rehabilitation – people talking about how we can help for longer (& self) sustenance. That said I was just amazed at how from my friends to the autowala first inquired about how I was, how things were at home.

Yes, all this was not without hitches. There were instances of how goods provided were being sold in the black market. Instances of relief being done only for the show & name ( well we take them in cos they still do something! 🙂 ). Politicians failing (no surprises there).

Lessons learnt. Though we as a city have risen, with loads of help from outside, it is clear that we lack disaster management (keeping apart whether it was natural or man-made). All are worried about how we are going to manage epidemics, the garbage being collected with all homes being cleaned out. What next? What do we do? How can we help – really help? Relief work happened haphazardly. The army came in with no clue where to go. Volunteers poured in and reports of the same area being helped came in. People donating stuff without much thought into where and how it is going. All good yet lacking thought. Instant gratification is what we all are looking at. Finding people not wanting to wait and see what more needs to be done, some not even realising that we should move on from relief, find out what the government is going to do further (if they are as they are supposed to) so we can pitch in where it is not or help where it is needed.

This calamity has brought people together and hoping that it stays that way. People were being patient on the roads, without the incessant honking. Though, now as a sign of normalcy, they are back on.

Irked by those who want us to keep wallowing in the disaster. We are moving on and getting to semblance of normalcy while doing what we can to help those in need (without selfies, photos splashed on social media and any other fan fare…..). This comes along with us wanting to get into the festive mood of Christmas which comes along with giving that we are doing. So shoot us those of us who now appreciate more of what we have and could have while you supposedly play the messiah!! [Of course I am going to rant about the few who have managed to push me off the edge while appreciating the scores of people quietly being awesome. One bad apple!!] –Rant!! Sorry!

I told my grandma that now I believe in miracles. I believe I must live my life to the fullest while I can. Don’t know how long this will last before I am pushed into depression by something/someone!

I am thankful I am there for A [ this is a totally different reason not related the flooding, may be will write a post & may be not!]. I will strive to make him feel as happy as I can.

PS: Didn’t realise I was going to write such a long post and I still have another in mind!!
PPS: This is entirely my experience. It is not harrowing just felt like the rains would never stop. The shockers were meeting and hearing stories of how they were affected. Proud of how they just are looking ahead and don’t know if they are spiritual when they say, those are just stuff – we are alive!

Driving in the Rain

This is a post I wrote in my office blog on September 11, 2013. Reposting it here….Thinking there will be some reposts happening every time I write something there 😉

Having been up almost all night listening to the rains lashing, thunder roaring & watching the flashes of lightening; I was dreading that I was in for a really bad drive to work. As expected, the schools were declared closed. Less traffic on the road came to mind. Knowing Chennai, I expected the roads to be water-logged, people driving badly – honking & yelling!

Drove out of my street, so far so good…no hold-ups. Smooth flowing. Listening to the radio where traffic updates were being given, was thinking “Hey! good thing am not on those roads where people had been stuck for an hour or more…I am moving!”. At the back of my mind I kept telling myself, that I am saying it too soon. Usually clogged up roads were ahead.

FYI, I drive on one of the arterial roads which leads to a highway-bypass, about 30 kms one way to work. I pass through quite a few bottle-necks which test one’s patience & driving skills!!

As I kept going forward, I noticed the traffic was well-behaved. In fact I was thinking if something was wrong as I didn’t hear much honking!! Am I sleep-driving? Dreaming? People were signalling, giving each other way! In general, I noticed the drivers/riders were obeying rules!!! Of course there are always exceptions, but there were way too few of these today!

I reached work and took less than the usual hour I take. There are times (on clear sunny days which are the norm here) where I have been stuck & taken close to two hours! What was different today?! I expected it to be the worst case scenario. Roads being flooded and they were in most places. There are more potholes than roads. People were cautious. They were more patient?! I didn’t see as much road rage as there usually nor people cutting in, driving like they owned the roads.

This really got me ruminating. Same road, I believe same people (most were heading to work & they take the same road everyday?!? Logical?! 🙂 ), bad weather & road conditions. Yet, traffic flowed, the traffic cops (bless them! standing in the rain) managed fine at one of the busiest signals. I have decided it was my expecting the worst. So, even a slight improvement made me look at things in a positive light. Also, having expected the worst, I had decided not to lose my patience which I believe helped. I was also quite prepared -mentally & had checked the car (wipers/lights).

The preparation, other people co-operating (don’t think they knew they were 😉 ) and some wonderful weather with music in the background certainly made it a pleasant drive overcoming the waterlogged roads with potholes (some say potholes with roads in between).

Has left me wishing there were more such days!!

PS: I really do love the rains!

My woes!! yeah I know…

A post after a really long time & it is a rant!! *sigh*

2 weeks back I went for my vacation with A to Thailand. Yeah good times :). I make a purchase with my “international” credit card. Things are fine. Go to another shop, extend my card, it gets declined!!

I call customer service, they say it is Sunday and they would forward a mail to the concerned department. I should be able to use the card the next day & I could try that evening. I try the next day & yeah, it gets declined again. Again called customer service, mail forwarded again.

I was told I had to inform the bank about my travel. I am like I have a valid passport, I get a visa on arrival even. So I cannot assume a VISA credit card will work without problems!! I have to call & inform them prior.

Fast forward a week, I try use the card for buying an app, it gets declined (my default card for payment was this!!). Didn’t think much of it, I forgot & used the card to pay for petrol……Oh yeah!! declined!! I call, furious to hear they will forward the mail  to the concerned department!!! 2 hours is the turn around time for this kind of request apparently.

Today I use the card. Yup….declined. Again call. Again the personnel says she will forward the mail!! I ask for the manager, she says usually card gets declined on suspicious activity.  (FYI: There are countries where CC fraud is rampant & banks do take precautionary measures I am told – Sri Lanka, Thailand are a couple like that!) I asked if she was aware of all the previous calls, whether they had a log maintained. She then asks for time. 4 hours now. She is going to call me to let me know my card is activated or what the status of the card is. I told her I need an explanation about what happened the last 2 weeks & all those mails that were forwarded!!

So my woes (yeah isn’t that why this post is being written?! :D)
Why must we inform the bank when we supposedly have an international VISA or MASTERCARD?!? This particular bank’s policy (btw, it is an international bank too!!! – your right partner 🙂 ) I am told. I said fine, I will accept the block…but what about the unresponsiveness even after calling & asking for the activation. 2 weeks & an escalation right now!!!

Next, this particular phone-banking service gives you the mini credit card statement of how much credit balance you have, what you owe, when the due date is at least twice!!! In this particular case, all I wanted was to talk to an executive to get this sorted not listen to my statement and twice at that!!!! Why not have an option in the IVR to ask if we need a statement if we are calling for that?!

Wondering if I need the hassle of such a card!! Guess I have not learnt the lessons!! 🙂
Oh I must mention here, that all my other cards worked (knock on wood!! hope I am not jinxing it) without informing the respective banking institutions.

PS: I guess I probably am the only fool who has a credit in the credit card account!! (would be great to know if there is anyone else out there like me!! 🙂 )This thanks to listening to my mini credit card statement each time I called!!! Just made me more furious.

I need anger management!!! Or we need a revamp of the customer service system here in India! Guess the former is more feasible & would get a better result! (I can almost picture people who know me really well grinning & not agreeing 😉 )

Lesson learnt: Whether you inform your family or manager or not about your travel; don’t forget to call your bank to let them know your itinerary!!

Time. Precious?

A is going for his summer coaching. He has chosen cricket. I know it is just spring time as per the calendar :). These coaching classes started yesterday and go on till mid-April. Starts at 5:30am IST.

Yesterday I saw parents bringing their kids in even a little after 6!!!! I thought maybe because it was the first day people were taking it easy. It continues today. I remember it was the case last year too.

This has got me thinking. I have been embarrassed many times when it has been pointed out that punctuality is not a part of the Indian psyche. I have even argued that it cannot be generalised. That said, in all honesty, we Indians are lackadaisical when it comes to keeping time. It is ok to make someone wait. I think I have written about how wedding receptions never start on time & people actually were surprised about my ignorance of this fact!! The invitation says 7PM means it will probably start at 8PM if we are lucky!!
It is weird that the same set of people cannot wait a few seconds at the traffic signal. People honk, start moving even before the light turns green. The don’t stop when the light turns red. All because if they stop, they will waste those precious minutes!!!! (Guess traffic etiquette is a whole different blog post).
So when and how will our kids learn the virtue of punctuality? Do I say the kids had not woken up to get here on time or do I say the parents didn’t enforce the same? I can understand if it is a stray one or 2 kids coming in late (something must have held things up! ) I find it is a whole bunch of kids!!!
Since parents are not allowed to watch the kids at the camp, I do not know if the teachers there reiterate the importance if being on time. I sure hope they do.
Having been brought up with this fact drilled into my head; I find it hard to accept the nonchalance in general. To my grand dad or mother, 5:30 is that on dot. Be early but never late. Respect the other person’s time. Make the effort. These are what had been told to me.
In the case of this camp, the kids have been enrolled because they want to ( or the parents want them to 🙂 ). Either way , shouldn’t the effort be taken to just show up on time?!?!
I am sure there still will be kids coming in late day after day till the end of the camp. Just wish they show some commitment in getting to the school on time!! Teach them young we are told!