That's What She Says

(the artiste formerly known as *45 Minutes To Forever*)

Monday, November 21, 2011

The First Day Of The Rest Of His Life

The tears came easy and fast as we stepped out of the door at home and I could barely see where I was going with them streaming down my face. I told him he was going to be okay and that Mamma was also hopefully going to be okay. I told him how this was going to be a great learning experience for him and us. I took Noah to his first settling in session at his nursery/crèche today. I knew it would be hard, but I wasn't prepared for the belly blow it turned out to be. 

I sat in the same room watching him play, and be a friendly, smiley, sociable person, and marvelled at how much of a personality he has begun to show. I watched in amazement how he functioned as a little person, independent of me, and it filled my heart with great pride and joy. 

His father and I have been his primary caregivers since he came into the world, and here we are now, ready (or wanting to be) to hand over his care for a large part of his waking hours to someone else. I feel a huge mixture of emotions - excitement, apprehension, wistfulness, guilt and happiness. It hurts more than I imagined it would. I know he'll thrive with all the stimulation, develop great relationships, and learn things we couldn't possibly teach him all by ourselves. I know we'll have good days and bad days, but I hope and pray that, overall, it will be a positive experience for him and us. 

Here's to you and nursery, Noah. Mamma will miss you sorely during the day, and she is very, very, very proud of you!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


This post was meant to be put up on 1st March, 2011, and for some reason or another, remained a draft. Here it is, for anyone who is interested.


Five years ago, at around this time of year, we stood at the brink of a brand new future together, Dot and I - a future that was uncertain, but one that seemed full of possibility and the promise of challenge and incredible excitement. We knew it wasn't going to be easy, but it was going to be one hell of a ride. In the three months just gone, we had married, moved countries, and were now going to move country again, but this time together. Many things had fallen into place and the stars had aligned themselves to bring us to this point and we couldn't wait to begin the onward journey.  

We moved to the UK on the 3rd of March, 2006, landing in Heathrow on a particularly cold winter's evening, made colder by the fact that everything was new and unfamiliar. Dot's cousins in Bristol opened up their home and their lives to us, and made us feel very welcome. We spent a week or so with them, commuting to Oxford by train every day, where Dot's job was. The job was unconventional and Oxford was gorgeous. We spent a week in a bed-and-breakfast inn run by a Norman Bates-ian landlord, while we looked for a place to call home. We were incredibly lucky and found a beautiful home to rent in a quiet, convenient suburb. We thought we'd give it six months, and ended up staying two years, after which we bought our own home further down the same road - talk about settling down in suburbia!

Our lives since 2006 have been full - there've been good things, great things, scary things, horrible things, but all in all it has been a fun ride. We've learned so many lessons, but most importantly, to not take anything for granted and to seize the day.  This country has become home and now we stand on the brink of another big, life-changing step - to be naturalised as British citizens. It's funny how something you didn't ever give much thought to, something that sat in the background as a possibility, and something you put a lot of human and material resources towards (sacrificing being close to family, financial security and familiarity) suddenly is within easy reach, but you find yourself questioning your reasons for wanting it. There is much to consider about where your loyalties may lie as a citizen of a country and how these loyalties are affecting or will affect the way you live your life in that country. There is much food for thought. 

As if all of this wasn't exciting enough, I'm very pleased to share with the few of you that still read my blog that we are expecting a baby, due at the end of March. 

Here we are again, standing at the brink of the great unknown, full of anticipation and excitement. See you on the other side!

A Tag to Get Things Going Again

Shilpa tagged me to list the things mommyhood has taught me thus far. While I have miles to go and much to learn, it seems a good way to kickstart things here again. I am not sure I have the capacity to be a dedicated mommy blogger, but my life is currently full of all things baby and probably will be for a long time and this makes for great blog fodder. 

So here goes nothing! 

As a parent, you will be faced with choices and the need to make decisions every minute of every day - material ones like is it better to get a regular or lie-flat car seat, is it okay to bathe your baby every day, would it be better for baby to sleep in a Moses basket or would a cot/cotbed more comfortable, etc. or more existential ones like how early should you go back to work or should you at all, should you encumber your child with religion or let him choose, etc. Whatever you choose and however you play it, you will feel guilt, self-inflicted or imposed, all the time. The feeling never leaves. It is the stuff that marketing companies selling baby stuff rely on. And because nothing but the best will do for your child, you worry yourself sick about having made a sub-optimal decision or choice and how it will affect his future. The truth, as some sage veteran parents will tell you, is that in the grand scheme of things it doesn't make any difference and that some bad decisions will be balanced off by some other good ones and that it will all be okay. You want to believe them, but struggle. Slowly and steadily, I am learning to make my peace with my new bedfellow - guilt.

My little man is a real trooper. He's a generally good-humoured and calm baby. However, the minute he senses I'm being rushed or distracted with him or not putting my soul into whatever it is I am doing with him, even simple things like strapping him into his buggy or teaching him to play with his toys, he becomes grumpy and is no fun at all. It's as if he reads my aura and feeds off it. I am amazed by it and how it keeps me honest. 

This one may sound like a hackneyed cliché, but it has to be said. I was always one to say "how different can it be?!" Boy, is it different and how?! Practically, simple things like eating a meal in a restaurant, doing a supermarket run, getting a haircut, all begin to take on the proportions of a military operation. You have to be so organised just to keep afloat. Make sure you have the nappy bag stocked up, choose food that can be eaten with only a fork or spoon (I haven't tried only knife yet, but I'm never saying never!), wear clothes you can breastfeed and ones that don't show drool and sick too much, make sure you are prepared for the vagaries of the weather (rain cover, blanket and sun hat at the ready), make sure you have your phone in your pocket so you are able to answer it without emptying your entire bag, etc. The list goes on and on and on. At a soul level, you begin to focus on being a better person to set a good example and you begin to see how insignificant everything else is in comparison to the immense love and happiness the little person brings into your life. If that's not change, I wonder what else is.

This tag is a work in progress. As I go further down the road of being a parent, I am sure we'll find more stuff to share, but for now, the baby calleth and I must go. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The littlest papoose has arrived...

... and life will never be same again.

Monday, September 27, 2010

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI - Cofton Park, Birmingham, 19th September, 2010

Waiting in the freezing cold, but quite happy with our vantage point location.

Cold and wet is no fun, but I am trying to smile.

As day breaks, they change the lights in the background of the altar to match. I am obviously not impressed and Dot's unusually cheery.

I'm awake at last, but Dot's beginning to give up the ghost.

Dot waving at the helicopter bringing the Pope from London to Cofton Park.

Miraculously, the sun came out and it didn't rain a drop from the time the Pope stepped off the helicopter. Spooky! We are obviously well chuffed at finally seeing the sun. Story of our lives.

The Pontiff is in the house. The crowd was going ballistic like at a rock concert.

The screen shows the Pope in his Merc Mobile kissing children handed to him from the crowd. The choir in the foreground was made up from children from schools in the area.

On the premises, making his way to the altar as seen on the fantastic high-definition screens.

That's the closest we got. He looked very tired and quite frail.

The sea of people.

Beginning to celebrate High Mass. The lady in the circle at the bottom right corner of the screen was translating the proceedings in sign language.

The beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, whose image they put up on the background after the ceremony was over. He was declared Blessed John Henry Newman. Beatification is the step prior to being conferred sainthood (canonisation).

Posing with the altar. Looking sleepy again.

The Papal blessing.

He left soon after the Mass and, as if on cue, it began raining! It was an incredible experience. He didn't engage with the people as much as I thought he would and all his speeches were scripted, but he is an 83-year-old man facing huge opposition on this visit particularly because the child abuse (by Catholic clergy) scandals being unearthed. It is a very onerous job and he bears the expectations of a changing Church. We did count ourselves as blessed and lucky to be able to be a part of his historic visit.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Cowardice v/s Self-Preservation v/s Apathy

Something happened on the bus last evening that took me back 10 or so years. 

Last evening, I was sitting with my earphones plugged in, listening to some music (okay, okay, it was corny 80s stuff on my playlist - do not judge!) watching the world go by in my window, getting into town on the bus after work. People around me were either chatting to friends, reading or listening to music and generally minding their business. The bus got quite crowded towards the end of the journey, and I was generally self-absorbed and oblivious to the people standing in the aisles. My reverie was rudely broken by some really loud thumping music I could hear over and above what was coming through my earphones. I pulled out my earphones to check and realised two teenage girls had got on and one of them was playing music out loud on her phone and generally chatting loudly and making a right racket.  I tried the glare approach and surprise, surprise, it didn't work. An American girl sitting in front of me was reading before all this noise started and she turned around and said to the girls "could you please turn the volume down, I am trying to read". Her tone was neither rude nor patronising. The girls sneered at her and giggled and proceeded to look away. She asked again and again was laughed at. I decided to step in because it also annoyed me. I said, "could you please turn the volume down? I can hear it over the music from my earphones." They said to each other " Don't know what these bitches' problem is? It's my phone, I want to listen to my music." I said, "it is your phone, but they are my ears, and I don't really want to listen to your music - could you please turn it down?" The girls retorted "you are the only two who seem to have a problem, no one else is complaining," at which point another lady who was reading said, "actually I do have a problem, it is also disturbing me". American girl then said she'd ask the driver to get them off the bus. They said again, "I don't see anyone else complaining". The American girl said, "that's because you look and behave like a bully, and people are afraid of being bullied by the likes of you." It made absolutely no difference. They swore and ranted, and giggled and mocked, and continued doing exactly what they were doing, smug in the knowledge that they had actually elicited a reaction from people.

Now, from experience I know, the people who either play music on their phones loudly in a closed space or put their feet on bus seats and are generally antisocial, are people who will do it irrespective of what you say to them. In fact, they'll do it even more if you somehow let on that it annoys you or bothers you. My problem with it is, what they are doing is not acceptable and unmindful of others in a public space, and there seems to be no way to stop them without getting verbally abused or, in extreme cases, physically hurt because you dared to stand up to someone who was antisocial.

When I say this took me back, I am referring to the problem of women (I travelled in the Ladies' Compartment on the trains in Mumbai)  chucking rubbish (chocolate and sandwich wrappers, water bottles, tissues, garlands, etc.) out of the window of a moving train right onto the tracks. Back in the day, I was a little crusader. I got into huge arguments with these people and it would all start with me saying "can you please hold onto that rubbish and throw it in a bin when you get off the train?". I'd then proceed to get told to "mind my business" or get sworn at and then the rubbish thrown anyway, just to spite me. This and the problem of people spitting, especially in a crowded place like a bus stop. I've also ended up being spat at and my family being called names I cannot repeat here.

I've now toned it down because it has never, ever made a difference. Yes, I suppose some might say, it will make the people who do it, think before they do it again, but I really doubt it. In fact, if anything, I think it might actually bruise their egos and make them continue doing it to prove a point.

The point of this ramble is, it was my business 10 years ago and it continues to be. It was my city and the space I lived in that the people chucking litter were ruining. I did and still do have a right to enjoy public space in its original state (even if that state is an unclean one anyway). Similarly, I do have a right to listen to what I want to listen to, and whilst not being unreasonable and kicking up a fuss about people talking, surely listening to someone else's music over my earphones is not something I need to put up with. 

But how do you register discontent or do you at all? Does it make a difference? Do the bleeding hearts all fall away into the chasm of apathy? Is it fair that someone who can physically or verbally abuse you, can most often get away with it and continue to offend? Am I being a coward and too caught up in my little perfect world to bother about something that's happening to someone else? If it obviously isn't going to make a difference, is it worth my peace of mind and time protesting? Can I afford to just not be bothered?  Is this just the way life goes? These are questions I have grappled with often and long, and I cannot seem to find answers to. 

So, to preserve my sanity, sometimes I protest and sometimes I don't. It still bothers my soul, that I sometimes choose to look the other way. I don't think I will ever make my peace with it.

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