Pleasures of being in India – encounter of the Original Brat with the Emerging Brat

If Appapappa had not stolen my camera for his Delhi trip, I would have put up a picture here. Picture would be one of the little sis with N. Little sis has come from Mumbai to spend time with her niece. And from the looks of it, the “who’s the bigger brat” competition is on full swing.

A little bit of history merits mentioning here. The little sis is the “Original” brat of the family. Self-proclaimed. And accepted.

Along comes a little toddler a year and a half old with equal capacity of brattish behaviour. All of a sudden the Original Brat ( aka little sis) is confronted with this threat to her domain, so to speak.

The resulting encounters between the Original Brat and the Emerging Brat can keep one entertained for hours.

Oh, where is that camera when I need it.

OB is also teaching the EB.

How to blow bubbles with your spit, and make sure it bursts so it sprays everybody in sight.

How to throw tantrums.

How to give lovable smiles after doing the most notorious things.

How to make a peevish face when not given something.

How to demonstrate an urgent need for anything available in a shop. OB is encouraging this in the EB by buying her all kinds of toys that she already has.

I could go on. I am waiting in horror when the EB will meet the Grandmother, who will see an opportunity for spoiling all over again. And I have to watch it all over again 🙂

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Mumbai held hostage, Guwahati already done.. what’s next?

A few days after we reached India, there is a series of bomb blasts in Guwahati killing 80 people, striking terror in the hearts of everybody.

Last night, terrorists land in Mumbai by boat, take out their weapons, and shoot indiscriminately at people.

My parents stay in Guwahati, have stayed there for the last 40 years, and unlikely to move.

My parents-in-law stay in Mumbai, close to Oberoi Hotel in fact, where even now the battle rages between the security forces and the terrorists who are holding people hostage.

My sister works in South Mumbai, again close to the Oberoi Hotel, she was next to Leopold Cafe an hour before the shooting started.

She takes ( used to take) the local train to her office everyday. Until the Mumbai train blasts happenned two years ago.

Are we to live with terror? Attacks are so frequent that the drill has become well rehearsed – hear news on TV, or get call or SMS from friends/family. First thought – self-preservation – are all teh people I know safe? Frantic calls go out – and the bottomless feeling in the pit of the stomach comes until everybody we know has been confirmed to be safe. A small guilty sigh of relief – and then more news on TV. So and so number of people killed etc etc – these people, since I dont know them, are now a statistic. A statistic, though, that strikes terror into our hearts, because who knows, we or our loved ones could be there in that list.

If the terrorists are aiming to strike terror into the hearts of people, then by God, they are succeeding! We are scared. So scared that I am wondering if I should have moved back at all – do I have the right to expose N to all this? As a parent, is it not my duty to ensure her safety – it was safer in the US ( ummm.. was it not??)

Or should we stand and fight? How does one fight a nameless enemy?

Help – this indecisiveness is killing me

Appapappa and I have been looking for a place to stay in Hyderabad. To give you an idea, we have looked at about 30 houses so far – ranging from dingy, rat-hole like apartments to swanky duplexes with built-in bars and what nots, flats in very generic looking apartment complexes to very individualistic houses ( saw a house today that actually has a rock as one wall of the bathroom). You may laugh, but the last one is seriously under consideration – what do you expect? You already know me as a die-hard nature fan.

There are apartments and houses a plenty to choose from. Finding one is not a problem. Deciding on a lifestyle is the problem.

The dilemma, my friends goes like this – all the “gated community highly secure newly built have-lots-of-kids”  apartments, are, unfortunately in the “newer” areas of the city. If you read my earlier small rant on highrises – this is where they are all coming up.  Its, in plain terms, very boring to live here for Appa and me. The restaurants – lounges – happenning places are all in the city, Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills area – and its unlikely we will go all the way there to party with all the traffic. So we will be in these gated community apartments with little to do in way of having a good time. With the exception of sports facilities – these communities all have swimming pools and gyms and at least a TT table – so thats good.

On the other hand there are these nice independent houses, with one floor occupied by the landlord and one floor available for rent. These are in Filmnagar/Jubilee Hills area, which means we have a fighting chance of going out once in a while. ( Maybe, if we can find somebody reliable to take care of N). Also, some friends happen to be living closer to that side. But if we stay in an independent house, N will not have other kids to hang out with. And it will be quieter with just me and her in the house most of the day.

SO there is our big lifestyle choice. What do you vote for?

< Blog edited with the decision: We went for the gated community. Sorry to disappoint you folks! Decided to “give it a shot” for various reasons. One of which is, we wanted to try to be more social, you know, be a part of the community and so on. So lets try it. Also, we’d lived in an independent house in Seattle, and thought this would be nice to try. The tennis courts helped>

Experiences of a trying-to-be freelancer

Selling and marketing our skills is something we hope we have to do on very few occasions in our lives. The rare few who know how to do it without appearing ridiculous in the process are lucky – the rest of us just play the avoidance game, trying to minimize those embarrassing occasions when we do have blow our own trumpet. Not convinced? Sit down to write your resume and you will know what I am talking about.Or, better still, try to get a date at a bar 🙂

Anyway, now imagine to have to do this quite frequently in your lives. Welcome to “blow your own trumpet or starve to death”club, otherwise known as the Freelancers club. ( I am talking about your average freelancer here, not the one in a million genius).

For one, as a freelancer, I have to “bid” for a project. What?  Nobody is coming running to me with projects – not to the smart, intelligent me? Oh no, they aren’t. Because there are quite a few smart, intelligent other folks out there – talented folks, who have been doing freelancing work for donkeys years, who will also “bid” – and of course, it will be sealed bidding.

So now I have a choice: Underbid, cutting down the competition, or showcase my “pedigree” to indicate how great I will be at the work. Underbid feels cheap, and showcasing myself makes me uneasy. No way out – got to do it, I guess.

Then there is the feeling, simultaneously liberating and scary, that no big name of a company is behind me this time. When I called myself “TheSmartScribe” it was just me, and my head, that I was offering – no honking machinery of support. A relief that I don’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of time in meetings, and in dreary dull reviews. A need to say out loud that world class company’s name who I am (was) associated with, so the brand name rubs off on me.  I worked for a company that people think hire smart techies, they hired me, so I am a smart techie, so now you;ve got to look at me. That kind of stuff.

Anyway, its fun to go through all this. Why am I doing it? Firstly, to get practice in my writing, and secondly, to keep both sides of the brain working. And last, but not least, to pay for ridiculously expensive flight tickets ( why did they do that just when I was moving back, waaah..).

And this is why I love Hyderabad..

Check out the gems below from a “India Today Guide to Property buying in Hyderabad”. I am slightly ashamed to admit to buying this – my assumed-highbrow-mentality is not yet allowing me to admit that I am really and truly in the property market, doing mundane material things like looking for property to buy. But there is the sad truth. But back to the gems from the buyer’s guide:

From a property listing for Aparna Sarovar:

“Aparna Sarovar invites you with arms wide open, one being a 75 acre perennial lake and the other being the University of Hyderabad” – I have heard of “Kanoon ka haath” being lamba, but this one seems to surpass Kanoon.

Another one that is funny, and slightly ironic: “Hyderabad city’s skyline rivals that of any city in the developed world, replete ( my God!) with aesthetically appealing flyovers, skywalks and expressways.” I can understand flyovers and expressways being efficient – I cannot imagine, in my wildest dreams, of aesthetically appealling ones!

Eeeks… and what is this! An apartment complex called, hold your breath, even if you are a Star Wars fan,  “Aliens Space Station 2” – I should not laugh yet, for all I know I may end up there. But seriously, this company is called the Aliens Group, has apartment complexes called Space Stations, and an Alien Hub ( do they have a UFO center, I wonder)?  No, you dont want an address for Flat Number 102, Aliens Space Station, Gachibowli, Hyderabad? Not even if they are offering “a perfect destination for the high-flyers to experience the future today”?

All of the apartment complexes, btw, offer something called “digital living” – I am still trying to understand what exactly that means.  Maybe an internet connection – to make your life completely digital?

Then there are  outright lies. 80% open spac2, 20% living space. Where are these splending open spaces, landscaped gardens, and what have you, I wonder? All I see around me are really ugly high-rises with no aesthetics or grace whatsoever.Perhaps they include the open spaces “inside” your apartment where you live.

There is also an article in the magazine where one guy is arguing about how vertical rises have a lower carbon footprint than spread out homes. The logic being it is easier to provide water, amenities etc. if everything is located within a small distance. Now since he has not substantiated his argument with numbers, I am immediately suspicious – his arguments are seeming like defensive statements. Somebody somewhere is speaking out against the total bastardization of the Hyderabad landscape it looks like. That strong word would also give you an inkling of my personal feelings about this I guess. but more about that another time!

I leave you with a final gem from a property developer called Lanco Hills, who claim that their property is going to stir in you, in their own words, “covetous passions”. Unless of course, you choose to have ” A peep into a Aditya Constructions villa” because that will  ensure you ” a rendezvous with luxury at its very best”.

Which corner is yours?

I went to check out a playschool for N. They have a free play session in the school every day.

The free play is in a room – there are “corners” in the room. A corner for music ( drums, bells, chimes, piano..), for scribbling, writing, a corner for games ( tumbling about), a corner for colors and painting, and a corner for rhymes and dancing. Kids go to the corner where they want to. No teacher tells them where to go.

Strangely, I’m like a kid in that room.

There is the corner of the corporate world, the world of meetings and deadlines and projects and schedules, colleagues and teams, morale events and product launches. I see orderliness, predictability here – people dressed in formals, doing their job. Except for a few, I see people who are called successful, but seem to be by and large filled with self doubt. I just moved away from that corner.

Then there is the corner of the freelancers. The corner of writing, singing, dancing, acting, travelling. I feel myself moving towards this corner. I see people who are content with who they are – but people struggling for money or recognition. This corner is volatile  and unpredictable. But not as much as the next.

The next is the corner of the entrepreneur. This one is very hectic. Networking, funding, VCs, business plans, ideas, energy. This is a fast corner, and I see energetic youthful faces here, with hope and ideas and dreams. People who can dream big – and have the will to move towards that. This corner is so full of excitement!

Then there is the do-nothing corner. This is a listless, move from day to day, no thoughts or ideas or actions corner. Certainly one to be stayed far away from. It entices one with lots of comfort – I see people splayed over cushions watching soap operas. Run!

RIght now, I am at the freelancers. Its good to have some control over my daily life, and what I want to do. It is difficult to stay disciplined – remember the do-nothing corner? It is easy to slip into that one. The entrepreneur’s corner is a possibility in the future – and the time in the freelancers corner allows me to think about that.

Loving being able to choose, without the teacher directing me on what to do!