Monday, 20 December 2010


Christmas! Its Christmas! I used love and hate the holidays when I lived in the West. It hardly made sense to me, I have never done the gifts or the turkey or whatever (still staunchly vegetarian, yo!). No cake either. Not that excited by cake. Likewise in Mumbai. It was just a time to chill out at home and get 'recharged' for semester two. And to plan an evening of fun for New Year's Eve, which, hopefully did not involve just the two of us sitting on the floor of our flat and bemoaning the fact that we had no friends and nobody loved us, etc.

Somehow, I am very excited by it this year, here in Chennai. I don't think I mean the exact day of the birth of Jesus Christ, but just the time of the year. I want to buy gifts. I want to plan a party. I am super excited that so many people are visiting and want to see every single one of them. I want to go out. I want to have them home (though that involves figuring out what on earth happened at the homestead. Why there are so many things lying around. What are those things? Who dragged that stuff in, really? Who?). I want to wear red clothes and green earrings. Or green clothes and red earrings. I want to find the reindeer horns and wear them. I have been trying to make the monster wear her green skirt that has snow flakes on them (she has refused point blank and worn her white bunny ears for two days in a row). Yeah! Excitement! New Year! Christmas! Fun! Frolic! Snow!

What is going on, kenny? What is it?

I went to a karaoke party on Friday night. It was so fun. Even if I could not drag husband away. I had to make two trips home. First I brought the monster back and deposited her in bed and told her to read and that would chase away monsters. Then I went back for the husband. I was a bit upset then this song came into my head "What would you do if I sang out of tune, would you stand up and walk out on me?" Of course I won't. I couldn't. I managed to handle that well, I thought.

Next morning I woke up early, heard the snores and took myself downstairs to my beloved kitchen where I proceeded to launch into some rice and idli and so on. I packed up dabbas of puliodarai and curd rice and idli and so on - the cook came in soon enough and threw me out and finished up the tasks for me while I showered and packed. We got in the car and drove non-stop and screeched our tires at mum's place. I climbed into my bright sparkly diwali salwar kameez and we went to my high school reunion. It was about the most fun thing that has happened to me. Teachers came too. So lovely. One of the ladies looks so beautiful, I was afraid to touch her. Like a doll she is, at 65. And they said the cutest things. Yes, this one is a separate post. And the guys & gals, my fellow conspirators for ten years. I love you all!

Next morning we went into a bit of a funk because of losing the monster's glasses at the party (she fell asleep). She was super hopping mad at us, of course, deservedly so. Anyway we got in the car and she slept almost the entire way, cause, hello, she couldn't see. I told her about Lord Emsworth losing his glasses and tried to make a joke of it. Imagine having a rose garden and a yew alley and the Empress of Blandings, and not being able to see them! Imagine! Again a non-stop drive back to base, spare glasses, dinner, and a welcoming (if creaky) bed.

I am trying to sort out my office boxes now. I had a most entertaining breakfast, and a good 'networking' coffee already. And miles of things to do. My to-do list has grown like a weed. But still, I am very excited! Christmas! New Year! Mumbai Marathon! Macbook Pro! Here I come. Here... I... Come...

Friday, 17 December 2010


There are these movies my husband watches. These guys get off a plane and get in a car and are whisked off some place in like Siberia or Oregon or something. Then they get off and its Christmas everywhere and they are shining and have finished their adventure and are just-glad-to-get-home-to-their-child who is blissfully unaware and sleeping.

Well, thats what the past few days felt like for me. Minus the adventure and the intrigue and the actual doing something useful (as opposed to just talking) and, of course looking crisp and cool getting off the said plane at the end of it all (i looked like a rat).

I was in FurryDaBad. Or something like that. There were some mountains. I don't know, you guys, Somewhere. North-ish from here. I spent the entire time locked up in the hotel (which had Christmas decorations and Christmas music in the elevator and I was really tempted to eat the Ginger Bread House). It was super nice, the place. Like someone polishing the floor and furniture every second of the day. Tech support that knew what LCD stood for and that could tell you the toggle key on your ratty vaio apart from, say, the finger sensor thingie that I have not even set up, really. I wore what passes off as formal clothes in Kenny Land. Namely, button down shirt and pants and a belt. I bought a new belt so I was happy with that shiny buckle for once. Some of the shirts are new as well (as in, I got them sometime in 2010) and I have not worn them all that much. I was dismayed to find that one of them was that cutesy three quarter sleeve thing. Oh well. It was blue, so that was okay. And yes before you say it, all very masculine, down to my dark coloured dress socks (from last century), and black shoes. And a black jacket that I could not really wear because of sweating.

I spent half a night cranking out a presentation. Some minutes presenting it the next morning. I drank coffee and walked down the hall to pee. I went back in the room and listened to the others. I dug out my (newly printed!) wad of cards (the kind with my name and affiliation on it) and handed it to all and sundry, urging them to read it and dispel for themselves the notion that I am a student (or worse yet, a post-doc, whatever, its okay if you dont know what that is, its something stupid, really). No, my white hair is not helping much. "You need to wear starched cotton saris" sure, yeah, I will do that. Soon. Sometime.

Then I came back. She was asleep. I squished her a bit in a bear hug (though I was stinking). He was awake. I asked him whats up. YAWN. Next morning I found myself on the treadmill to nowheresville again. I am not sure I went. I am definitely not sure about where I was. I have some memories of the hotel room and a bunch of folks I met for the first time and all sorts of conversations, and yes, that ginger bread house thing. But, still, its all weird.

This morning, again, in a sort of disconnected manner, I found myself running on Marina beach in the rain, worrying about the warning-less tsunami, looking apprehensively at the water (very far away today). I found myself running with two people I met at the conference. Super nice guys. One of them told me something. He is older. Maybe fifty? Not sure. Looks slim and fit without looking ill as only white people can. He said he runs with his son. In two races a year, and not more. He said he will do that for as long as he can keep up with him. The son is not all that into running, he is a soccer kid. But runs in these two races with his dad without cribs. He said he made the mistake of being too eager too early to run with his other children and well, it never happened. So, yes. Hear me now.

I am training now so when she is ready to, I can run with her in a race or two, and keep up, somewhat. Out with all the other goals.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Early Morning

Early in the morning. The sky is dark. Yes, winter is here in Chennai! The sun, which is usually up and blazing by this time, is far away. I have been up for a while now. For a run that got rained out. Actually, I kitted out and stepped out. I hadn't cycled 200 m when it started pouring cats and dogs. Yes, I have run before in this type of rain in Chennai. But not today. The spirit might well be willing, but the flesh, well, just not so much, I am afraid. I got drenched even as I locked my cycle.

No regrets, however. It is amazing how its human nature to overdo everything. At least, its mine. I used to joke saying "I have an addictive personality, its in my genes" - but this is true. Lets sift the facts (at least some of them).

Mum is obsessed with cleanliness. It makes her anxious to be in a place that is messy (dirty is a far cry). Very anxious and crabby. I KNOW she would rather clean than, say, sleep an extra hour. I have known her to be completely exhausted but still doing dishes.

Dad had his own set of irritating idiosyncrasies. Yes, its nice to think about them now and feel all 'OH I miss him' and sad, but frankly, requiring that your towel and undies be ironed at all times is a bit much, isn't it? He would also change his clothes every so often - which is more annoying than it sounds, I don't feel like describing it better though.

Me? Well, I have a set of mind games I play with myself. I feel anxious when I don't exercise for a few days. It took some time to diagnose, but I attribute much of my crabbiness in the initial days of motherhood (by initial I mean of course the first two years!) to an inability to exercise (enough). Not so much about appearance or weight, thankfully, but just a love of sweating it out. I dislike losing control over the homestead. In the sense of finding strange items around the house - especially the kitchen. So the day I return from a trip away is a bit traumatic for me. Nothing to do with cleanliness (which would be my mum's thing). Just that loss of control. I used to stock up everything in the kitchen, make miles of lists, give very detailed instructions to cook & maid for a day long trip to, say, Kalpakkam. I have eased up now. I have learned to let go (a little bit). I don't like to miss meetings at work. I mean, some of the silly meetings that people call, and many feel okay to skip, well, I don't like it. Its a control freak thing I guess, mixed in with a healthy dose of perceived gender bias (I hate to think that people think that because of being a woman I cannot work like them, while recognising that not all guys are idiotic like that and that I am answerable to no one, really). I have found it very hard to give the monster the type of independence she deserves. I know this is not entirely my fault. Babies come out of the womb so very dependent on you that its hard to determine when and how much to let go. But still, I think I have consistently erred on the other side.

Clearly, this is not the entire story. But it is, at least in part. But what I wanted to say today is this: A big lesson learned in 2010 has been to LET GO. To STOP FUSSING. I don't mean that everyone should be like that or that it ought to be YOUR life philosophy. But just for me. The advantage I have is that I don't do regret. I rarely mull over what could-have-would-have-should-have and feel the need for a time machine or a do-over. Rarely. I do rarely fuss in that sense of the word. You know, like a person who likes to have everything just-so. No. I am not like that. But clearly, I have control issues over my own life. But I think I have made progress this year. I am not saying that I have totally given up worrying about all those silly things that constitute my normal package of thoughts (and cause me stress). Its just that somehow my mind feels freer this year, more able to come up with solutions to problems rather than just wallow in them. Also, more willing to accept my own mistakes (the first step to solving a problem is to recognise that you caused it, Kenny).

Its not just the obvious differences between us - tall vs. short; consultant vs. academic; etc., at least for me, he is the balance that is vital to my survival. Whenever I look at those people in really awful shape you see on the streets occasionally - don't know if just starving or drugged out or drunk or just plain sick and no one to look after them (have you heard the song 'He was a friend of mine' by Dylan, if so, like that) - I think thats what would happen to me if I did not have my husband with me, to help me not make mountains out of mole hills....