Kitchen Matters (Or doesn’t)

15 Apr

My kitchen has seen a lot of activity over the last few days. I have been pulling out all my domestic skills and dishing out 2-3 desi meals a day. I know, I know that is mostly the standard in Indian homes and shouldn’t be a big deal at all. But the thing is around here, my cooking is usually sporadic during the week. I cook in bulk a few times of the week for the husbadoo and myself, and am often only cooking small bits for Bandar on a daily basis. And I usually have Thai, Italian or Mexican in the rotation to keep us excited.  But my father in law is visiting us for a few weeks and as usual I am on mission to impress. Not sure why this is particularly important for me considering we have been married for over five years now, but maybe I just generally strive for appreciation in life.

Related little anecdote to help you understand what makes me tick! Our friend has two beautiful dogs – B and L. Both are mixed breeds and apart from being medium sized black doggies, they are as different as can be. When we spent an evening with them a few years ago, L was eager to show of all her tricks, begged for little treats, allowed herself to be petted endlessly. B on the other hand, could care less that visitors were around. After a courtesy look in our direction he went about his ambling around the house and snoozing. Sometimes he watched L play with us, from the corner of his eye but did not budge from his lazy spot under the table to play along. Their owner told us this was typical and that L was the “pleaser”. So that is how some of us in this world function. We aim to please, appreciation drives us and we spend a lot of our time making plans to please others.

So the food aspect of my FIL’s trip more than any other element, and more specifically – “What the hell do I cook everyday for a month?” drove me to extreme planning measures the weeks leading up to his trip. I drew up a schedule with basic vegetable and lentil dishes that worked together. This menu if executed will absolutely be a highlight in my domestic career as it pushes the limits of my 6 year Indian food cooking experience. I am only about 4-5 days into the plan and can already see it takes the daily thought out of cooking and saves me time as I just have to prep and cook according to it. A few of my friends have already asked me for this schedule and I might just patent it at the end of this month! Of course , its early yet and I shouldn’t jinx myself here. The only huge problem in the current scenario as my FIL is extremely nice and non demanding but taciturn, and his non-committal looks on food dished out might not necessarily mean disapproval or disappointment .But of course , I take it to be. And spend more time revisiting the menu and tweaking dishes, replacing some evening with surprise snacks and things that he might like and giving him options.

Getting back to the cooking, I am learning more everyday. A huge lesson here is learning to cook just enough for a meal or two and not copious amounts. The only improvement is it’s now a few spoons of leftovers, instead of a container full and I am disposing of most of it by consuming it at the end of the day. So that usually means that you will find me in the kitchen as I clean up for the night, hurriedly scoping some palak dal or bhindi subji up with a rye cracker or slice of bread and stuffing my mouth. It’s easier than finding a tiny container with lid to refrigerate it. I also learnt to become extremely efficient in the kitchen. I use my time wisely and multitask even better than before. My vegetable chopping happens for the next day as my milk is boiling for curd setting , my dish washer is unloaded in the morning as the tea boils. My electric cooker and its settings have been mastered for Indian cooking. So overall it will be a huge month for self-improvement and learning if nothing else.

The husbadoo hates to see me stressed out about any of this and is constantly reminding me that we are married now and that impressions don’t matter a hoot. He offers to help in any way possible to lessen the load but given my obsession to impress, I refuse help and I am even paranoid about him being spotted with so much as a knife or a cutting board in the kitchen. On the other hand though, he is blown away by the quality of the food in the last few days, or maybe the poor guy is finally getting some fresh homely food daily, and he is dishing out the praise in tons. He relishes every single thing made so far and let me know, largely making up for my FIL’s lack of food commentary. This in turn is making me feel all soft and mushy towards the husbadoo in general and we have shared many a quick but passionate kiss in the few nooks and crannies of our little apartment and I am less critical of his non shaven look , hours of cricket playing and longer-than-my-liking hair style in these last few days. So my little domestic world is fine with atleast two happy campers.

How a two year old does spring break

9 Apr

So Bandar was out of school for Spring Break for a few days recently. This was the first spring break that she kind of understood as a holiday from school and spoke about about in anticipation the weeks prior.I wish we could travel and go somewhere for these mini breaks but of course it doesn’t materialize sometimes. And let’s face it – Bandar honestly can be happy anywhere- be it at a beach on the Caribbean or at home here, as long as she has us. So the travel lust is purely for me! Anyway, that said, I did want to give her a few treats and make a “staycation” out of a few of the days if I could.

– We kick started spring break with buying Bandar an ice cream cone from this ice cream van that is always parked near her school. I knew she had a bad throat , but despite that gave in and bought this for her.My theory was that if she worsened or got a fever, we would  hopefully recover in five days anyway. She was thrilled that I actually stopped and bought her the cone.She ate it on her way home in the stroller. One of the  other reasons I don’t normally buy her an ice cream on her way home, apart from the throat and cough issues she perpetually has is that, I hate the sticky mess on her face, neck , clothes , storller as she eats it.  But then on that day I figured, she’s a kid once and what is spring break without a messy ice cream cone treat. She was almost gleeful as she proudly ate it and every passer by stopped to smile at this messy little monkey! Oh and poor Bandar had some coughing spells later that night and since, which may or may not have been aggravated because of the ice cream.But being a mean mommy, I did tell her that the ice cream was probably the cause. She has now decided herself that she won’t have any more ice cream till her third birthday as she doesn’t want to cough. I am sure we will break this resolve come summer though!

– Friday , Bandar played at home while I worked. In the evening, at 6:30 pm, we went to the husbadoo’s office. His campus is seriously one of my favorite spots in the city.Bandar’s too as she loves to run and walk on the lawns.After playing around in his office for a while, we headed out to our favorite ramen place. There was a 45 minute wait during which Bandar was seriously on her best behavior, we ate some delicious vegetarian ramen.The evening couldn’t have been more fun. We had our favorite table at the corner that seats the three of us perfectly and is worth the extra long wait. Bandar alternated between salad and some ramen which I doled out for her into a small bowl. Can I just say again that I love this age for eating out. So much fun to share things you enjoy with your child. We walked back home too and I got about 5 miles total walking that day , which I was thrilled about. Must have worked some of the ramen carbs off!I hope:) We wanted to stop for cupcakes on our way home, but the bakery was shut as it was past 10 pm. The only dampener to the evening came afterwards for me when I learnt that Ramen usually has MSG , and it is probably no better than Maggi and is probably not something we should be feeding Bandar. Oh well, what’s done is done and we will have either not go here this often or not worry it.

– Saturday , the husbadoo went off for cricket. Bandar and I had a fabulous morning. We went to the library and read a ton of books for an hour. We then went to storytime . Bandar is clearly fascinated by babies. She loudly exclaimed , “Amma, I just love babies so much!” Is that cute or what? I had to stop her from running to any little baby she saw. She calls anyone smaller than her a newborn, even if they are well past the age of one.

-After the library, we went to Starbucks. Bandar’s first visit. I bought her a kiddie hot chocolate, got my chai  tea latte and we shared a yogurt blueberry muffin. Bandar also ate a little of her khichidi and veggie lunch that I had with me. We then went to an arts and crafts store and picked up some treats – Beads to string, a basket ball hoop and ball and sand toys.Afternoon nap at home for Bandar and we had fun that evening playing with all these goodies.

-Sunday morning started with skype sessions and we then decided to set off to explore Chelsea Market. I am so glad we saw this little nook of Manhattan. Indoor food stalls and restaurants, lots of trinket shops. Such good fun. My only regret is the husbaodo and I did not eat enough for some reason. We started with sharing a crepe and had some tiny doughnuts in interesting but tasteless flavors( green tea and chocolate mesquite). The doughnuts had so much powdered sugar on them that it masked any other taste completely. Waste of calories and appetite. I ate a doughnut after a good five years and I will not be picking them up again anytime soon. Anyway, after that doughnut fiasco, we didn’t try any of the other amazing veggie options there and instead we picked up cupcakes to eat at home.

At home , we relaxed with sharing some cupcakes and catching up on the previous season of Masterchef Junior. Bandar loves this show now and requests to watch “the children cook” . Her interest usually lasts a few minutes only though and she wanders off, letting us relax and unwind. Sunday evening saw just Bandar and I goofing around the house as the husbadoo went off to work for a few hours.

– We had a nanny arranged for Monday and Tuesday as we both had work, while Bandar was off. She played wonderfully well with the nanny. She’s got into this cute habit of enquiring if any guest “is having a good time?”. Her next question usually is “are they happy”. Anyway, Monday and Tuesday were crazy hectic for the husbadoo and I at work, and late work sessions till the wee hours happened and pizza was ordered. Hopefully we have a calmer rest of the week. The husbadoo still made time to take Bandar to the park on Monday. So that was another little spring break treat.

Also, I want to remind myself if I read this years from now, that this was the time we made significant potty training inroads. Pats on backs all around.

So that my friends, was Spring Break 2015.And now please let’s have some spring weather around here.

Those were the days

6 Apr

I was tasked last week with writing a letter to my 17 year old niece who is graduating high school and leaving for college this Fall. I thought long and hard about what to say and finally wrote a few heartfelt lines for her. She has a good head on her shoulders and will undoubtedly be fine and do really well academically and socially, and my advice was mainly about taking care of herself and enjoying the journey.

Anyway, that said, this task took me back to thinking about some of my own college experiences. Here’s a glimpse!

  • I can now admit unabashedly that I followed a boy to college! And a terrible one at that. Yes, I actually based my entire life’s choice on where I would go to college and what I would study based on the fact that this silly high school boyfriend (HB) was going here. Thankfully, we broke up within a month of starting college and were in different branches of engineering. It still made for irritating canteen bump-ins and uncomfortable “hellos” through the four years. I cannot advise other people not to do this, as I again did this for my masters (this time though choosing to follow the husbadoo , then boyfriend to the US),and I don’t regret it. In retrospect, if I hadn’t followed HB to this college, I would never have met the husbadoo and so maybe all is well.
  • I was in a branch of engineering that had very few girls. The boys and girls in our class did not talk for the first few months . After that, interactions started in pockets – mainly for copying assignments! I was a part of a group of four girls, all pretty similarly raised and similar in outlook, (very important to note as we basically did not relate to about 70% of our class in anyway) and we spent the better part of the first two years looking at other more “hep” branches where the boys and girls ate lunch together wondering if we would ever be friends with a small sub set of boys in the class.  Oh and no love interests in the class at all, this was purely from a platonic stand point. At the end of maybe 3 years, this eventually did happen and we have had maybe one or two group lunches. I know such a “non – big deal” in other colleges and courses maybe but biggish here.
  • Assignments! We were in a field that had a lot of engineering drawing – almost three years of it. So these massive sheets required a lot of time and effort. Usually one person in the class came up with the design, mostly picked up from seniors work from years past and the entire class would make copies of the sheet at the copy shop conveniently located across campus. As this massive sheet ended up as maybe 16 A4 sized sheets, you then took the copies home and drew out your own sheet. I have personally not done a glass trace as the apparatus of a glass top table and light below the table were not easy to set up at my place, but I must have been in the minority.
  • The food! The canteen was after all a government college canteen, so prices were quite low on almost all things there. The Rs. 15 grilled sandwich was maybe the most expensive thing or the Rs. 17 Schezwan fried rice in a scary bright orange which usually two people or four shared. So your pocket money usually went a long way. A Rs 2.50 vada pav and cutting chai for I think Rs. 1.50 were a staple. There were more expensive places we went to around campus though to break this monotony. Oh and all of us brought our dabbas to college, we would usually end up eating those at 11 am and then hit the canteen later in the day. Basically a lot of food through the day.
  • The yearly college fest ! Where do I start? Firstly there was a rope separating the boys and girls, so that no funny business happened. Of course, it did outside the college and other parts of the college that were not roped off. Each department had a fashion show and ours was usually the most awful. We girls showed up to see hot guys and slutty girls from other departments and in four years never once participated in our own department’s show. During the first two years our aim was to escape being roped into this and making fools of  ourselves on stage.This involved stressful situations and frustrating our seniors who worked hard to recruit people for this show. The latter two years, we blissfully were not even prodded to participate and didn’t bother to organize anything at all.
  • Sports days and mandatory girl sporting events – box cricket , basket ball were all terribly humiliating again. None of the girls in our department played a single sport decently. But we had to play these to uphold the department’s honor so to speak and I have vivid memories of awful basketball games were maybe one girl on our side knew how to even dribble the ball. (And no, that wasn’t me. I really suck at most sports.) So we used to have a huge audience , mostly irritating boys roaring in laughter during our games. Maybe I give ourselves too much credit, that they were there to see our miserable on field performance. They were probably there to see the hot little IT girls we sometimes had to play againstJ
  • Exams and results results! College seemed so hard when I was in it. I kept thinking I was a misfit for the course and I think I am still the worst engineer in existence but the one thing I did know to do was work hard. Looking back, I read the prescribed books, notes, learnt how to design stuff that I had no interest in  (You can look up  mould design or jig design , to get an idea) and did quite well in all the courses.

In our engineering courses, if you attempted a paper for 100 marks, you would definitely pass with maybe scoring somewhere in the 60s. God help you if you ended up not preparing and had to attempt any lesser.  If you only attempted 80% of the paper, you probably might be border line pass or fail at 40%. In short, there was a huge disparity between what you wrote and what you scored. And results would come a good month after the next semester started. So someone would find out the results were coming out that afternoon. The rest of the day would be spent in fervent prayer. And finally the administrative laddie would come out with a huge roll of results and put them on the notice board for all to see . And you would scramble to find your name and heave a sigh of relief at passing. In the first two years, invariably, someone you knew wouldn’t pass and would get a “KT”. You would then spend the next few hours trying to commiserate with that friend. By the third year, everyone seemed to have got their act together on how to study and these situations were very few.

  • The gossip, the professors, the fear! Ours was a smallish department where everyone knew about everyone’s business. When the husbadoo and I started dating each other in our final year, I had major freak outs about the profs finding out about us. The repercussions could range from them calling your parents to being failed in your vivas. So I lived in fear for the most part. But I guess they probably did know  but nothing was really done about it, thankfully. We invited these profs to our wedding too a few years down the line!

Writing this and reminiscing makes me miss college. I am barely in touch with a handful of people from the so called “group” I was in. Most of my classmates are on my Facebook and it’s amusing to see pictures of weddings first and now children starting to pop up.

I remember when I was in college; I was always more stressed than I should have been. I made a huge deal of every single assignment, social event, exam, result declaration, boy trouble – all of it.  But somewhere in between all this, I guess I was having a good time!

Isn’t it funny

1 Apr

-That just the second day after I take up the challenge of getting  Bandar to bed and asleep at a decent hour, I fail miserably in my mission and Bandar puts up a fine one hour display of chit chat and randomness at bedtime?

– That these random antics were amazingly cute and adorable, but I was too stressed about getting her to fall asleep and getting out of the room to enjoy them a wee more?

– That I desperately crave carbs  (a delish bowl of peanutty noodles from the fridge) , not chocolate, after this bedtime ordeal but instead have to settle for a healthy but boring kale smoothie that I have to trash if not drunk tonight?

– That kiddie snacks (Goldfish and Chocolate Teddy Grahams) are crazily addictive and have to be eaten to cleanse my mouth of the smoothie taste?

– That Bandar has chosen the busiest night of the week for me , when I have several hours of office work ahead of me , to put up her fine sleep fight?

– That I seriously have not given tomorrow’s lunch boxes a single thought and might have to tackle them way into the morning hours after above office work?

– That the husbadoo also is working but from his office and it is already 10:30 PM , but will hopefully be home soon and that we both can finally get some couple – time on the couch tonight, even though we will be on our respective laptops working?

– That I need to absolutely have some random reality TV on in the background as I work, but the current episode that I am watching actually needs my attention as I am missing some choice cat fights?

– That I am actually taking a break to blog this as I munch my Goldfish crackers and procrastinate starting work?

The weekend bullet routine

24 Mar

If I don’t blog by atleast Tuesday about the weekend, I am going to end up forgetting what we did.Not that it was a spectacular weekend by any means , it was just your regular old weekend – but guess there is some comfort in routine and I will probably enjoy getting a glimpse of what we did when I read this several years from now.

– The weather is far too cold for March. But I am surprisingly not that bothered by it any more. I just merrily put on my four layers and do what I have to do,snowstorm and all. Of course , I realize that I am not driving, I am not shoveling and I live in the city, so maybe that makes going about and doing your thing easier.

– We did some skype time with the grandies on Saturday morning and feasted on Ragda Patties. This was the only meal I made the entire weekend.Cannot thank my stars enough that we both  don’t particularly mind older food. By old I mean a max of 3 days. Bandar gets fairly fresh food . Fairly being the operative word – I know, I do feed her a day or two old food sometimes, gasp! But its all good and she’s okay. I rather be reading her a good book than cooking piping hot, delicious meals on the clock.

– Talking about stories, my sister sent over some of our old Enid Blyton short stories recently and I have spent several happy bedtimes and weekends reading aloud and snuggling with Bandar. She’s only two and a half (as she will remind you) , so I do abridge the already simple stories but we have a few favorites so far.

– We did the regular, overpriced kiddie haircut for Bandar on Saturday evening and she was as good as gold. Only the blow dryer scared her a bit. She enjoyed sitting in the toy car , pretending to drive while the stylist did a decent job. She even commented that the visibly older screaming child next to her was “just scared and maybe a newborn?”  Compassion – 1, Observation – 0.

– We then went to Central Park , for the first time in months. The temp was about 32 F and we had to keep our gloves on. Hoping for more spring park days soon. Bandar called it a night with pizza at whole foods and a puke incident later on the bed. Fun times!

– We have started potty training in its simplest form at home and Bandar complies for the most part and is rewarded with Hotwheels and M&Ms. So far so good but I have no unrealistic expectation that we will be out of diapers in the next few months. This is going to be a long drawn out process.

– The bad part about potty training is the candy accessibility in the house. I went through my weight in M&Ms this weekend!

– Sunday started with a playdate for Bandar in the morning. Lunch was a quiet affair at home and the husbadoo went off into deep slumber, while Bandar and I played, read and prepared to go to birthday party . She was quite excited and I gave up making her sleep , only to have her fall asleep 30 minutes before we had to leave. Anyway, the party cheered up the grumpy, sleepy monkey and she was satiated with juice, chips and cake.

– Maybe I should be limiting sweet treats for Bandar . Some of her friends are allowed no candy, and only tiny bits of cake. Bandar gets dessert , juice and candy if its available. We do limit to some extent when it is available but maybe not enough in comparison to other kiddos her age. We previously never stocked this kind of crap but have started to off late. She’s taken to eating this deliciously , rich chocolate coated biscuit everyday after school and I sometimes have a hard time getting her to leave school, if I don’t promise this biscuit. Bad parenting, I know. We brush her teeth well morning and evening, but even if teeth rot isn’t an issue, I worry about the sugar she consumes on a daily basis. So if I am worried , i should probably do something about it, right? Need to go back to bribing with smoothies and carrots – super hard!

– I had such a New York moment in the party when the parents around me were debating local bagels! Funny!  That said, socializing with Bandar’s classmates’ parents is one of the few social outlets I have and I enjoy these few occasions immensely.

–  The weekend brought in some unpleasant financial revelations for us. But I guess that’s the mixed bag of being an adult and you deal with stuff as best as you can, make decisions and move on. Moments like this are when the fact hits you that you are truly a grown-up with real world problems. We ended the weekend with dinner outside though. Nothing to get over overspending blues like eating out again, is there? Pretty shameless indeed but hopefully this phase too shall pass,

– We did some much needed house cleaning and every time we do these short but effective cleaning sprees , I am motivated to do them more frequently. Sadly, cleaning is the most hated of household chores for me and I can live quite comfortably despite the mess all around. The husbadoo is a tad different, but only a tad and I certainly don’t see him volunteering to do all the cleaning, sorting,laundry, trash organizing chores on his own each week So our only plan of attack has to be joint and we have to be consistent each week to at the very least,  create a decent living environment for Bandar.

SPIL 1

21 Mar

When Revs announced she was starting her SPIL series some time ago, I commented telling her I would take this up as well. No rules, no deadlines, no minimal number of posts ….sounds perfectly doable to me! So here’s the first one.

I landed in the US, about two weeks before grad school began with the sole purpose of finding a campus job to cover my living expenses. A tuition waiver was out of question for a Masters program, so at best it would have to be an  hourly paid odd job around campus for 20 hours a week. I had heard stories about cafeteria jobs, tutoring jobs and jobs at the sports department which involved field set up for football games (you atleast got to hang out with hot jocks in this one!) – it was all such a wild bag of random tasks that I didn’t know what to expect before I actually found one. I spent my first week in the US, going to each campus building trying to find some job to do. Sadly it appeared that the jobs were either all taken or eliminated all together with shrinking budgets.

Finally, during a grad student orientation, a nice looking lady came to talk to us about the student services around campus – the police department, the health center, the transportation department and so on. She ended with saying that she  needed a student assistant who could write to help her maintain the website and run newsletters. Perfect! This job had my name written all over it. I barely remember what else they spoke to us about during that session – I was euphoric that I had identified the perfect job. Immediately afterwards, I hastily searched through my writing samples – small stuff like school magazine editor, college magazine contributions, some short stories published in a local magazine  and other crap and made copies . I took my resume and the writing samples to meet this lady, M. She was super sweet and oohed and ahhed over my application. When she learnt my major was not computer science though and that I had no website design experience, she sadly said she couldn’t give me the job. Her past student assistant (also desi) could write beautifully plus he managed the website and both skills were neededb for this jo. Oh well, so that job was not to be then. She did get my name and email address though as I left.

I put the whole incident behind me and found a random job entering work orders in the facilities department a few days later. The job was as dull as the day, but it paid the bills and was atleast indoors in the crisp fall that was slowly turning into a cold-for-me-from-the-tropics-winter.  And besides it was the only thing I found anyway, so what choice was there. (I need to do a complete post about the struggles of grad student life, but that’s another story) . Anyway, about a semester into my job, I got an email from M, saying she wanted to meet me again. So I stopped by least expecting to hear this was about the same job. Surprise – the computer science student she had picked was awful at wriiting and she had decided to sack him.  She had decided she wanted to hire someone who had the writing skills ,rather than the website design ones , which could be picked up fairly easily on the job. Yeah for me! Oh and this new gig paid about 1.5 times as much as my old one and made complete financial sense to take. I quit my Faciltiies department job on the same day and started work with M in her administrative department.

The department had four lovely ladies. There was R, the impeccably dressed , president of Auxilary services who was M’s boss. She had an air about her and I think M and the other ladies were a tad bit scared around her. But the few times she spoke to me during those first few months, I realized that she had a soft , kind heart despite the harsh facade her position sometimes demanded of her. There was then sweet and extremely efficient W, who was in R’s secretary. Brisk, to the point and supremely good at her organizing. There was B, the finance director , who I had my first actual managing your finances talk with in life . B was a whiz at math and numbers in general and the most academically inclined of the four women. She had a great deal of interest in my courses and career path.

And then finally the lady who hired me , M. M was such an interesting character. A little scatter brained , pouring out the random thoughts in her head,messy desk , messy office, great copy writer – catching the minutest of punctuation errors (wish I had learnt a little more from her there), great listener and super good at getting people around her to open up (this skill I did pick up a little for some interviews I did for the newsletter), online shopping addict, successful weight watchers program graduate, These are the only tit bits I remember now, from 8 years ago but you get the gist. She had two older kids in their twenties – a boy and a girl. They had moved out a few years ago and she was happily married to a man, who’s name totally escapes me now, but who she constantly referred to in all our conversations.So I gathered that they were happily married, empty nesters. M did these unexpected kind things that a mere boss need not have done for an International graduate student she saw just a few hours each week. She got me pecan pie back from Thanksgiving celebrrations at home and always saved me some carrot cake with cheesecake frosting  from department meetings that she attended. We grew closer over time .  She showed me every package of shoes and clothes that arrived for her from her online shopping sprees and asked me for my opinion.

I usually worked 3-4 hours a day and I started off with a chat with M – it was always supposed to be a quick chat, but it never was. We would usually start off with some article planning, theme picking , brainstorming for the newsletter and then go off on tangents to talk about random things. This was the phase that my parents disapproved totally of the then boyfriend(now the Husbadoo) and I finally had someone to talk to about my amazing boyfriend. I was somehow a little ashamed to bleat out my entire story of the parental disapproval, so did not venture into that conversation but instead spoke of the fun times we had shared during recent visits. She on her part like all typical American parents , offered nothing but her whole hearted admiration that we were in a  long distance relationship.

Regarding the job itself, I loved the actual interviewing and article writing for the newsletter – interviewing the campus employee of the month, attending the random celebratory ceremonies, interviewing nurses in the health clinic, talking to the police department about new safety measures. I was given a small recording device to use during these interviews and it helped me to finish churning out articles at top speed for several months in advance. I then spent the rest of the time helping W with some organizing work or other random tasks around the department. In those  stressful times with nasty roommates and other stress, my campus job was my escape and I enjoyed every minute spent in that office.

I had a summer internship planned in another city and wondered in M would hold my job for me to return to my final semester. I needn’t have worried at all – she agreed to do that without a second thought. So I wasn’t with her that Summer, but I returned for my final semester the next fall. I remember her excitement at having me back and she asked me a million questions about the summer and the city that I was in.  We then planned for my final semester. This one was when I had several interviews lined up for jobs upon graduation , and I shared all the details with M. She was especially interested in what I would be wearing for the interviews and pushed me to splurge on a new suit at Macys . She listened to all the details post – interview and when the offers were made, she asked me to talk to B about the right financial and investment decisions that I would be faced with once I had an actual job. Once I did accept an offer, R , the main queen bee of the office, insisted that they all take me out to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory! On one of my final days at the campus job, just prior to graduation , M gave me a beautiful silver charm bracelet and we parted with many hugs and tears.

Sadly, we both are bad at keeping in touch. I did send her a wedding invite a few years later. I don’t think I ever told her about Bandar and I think i am going to send her an email this weekend with some pictures. She still seems to  be working in the same job so I can thankfully still reach out; Its funny that this short 9 month stint in that office, was the first SPIL bit that I immediately thought to share. Undoubtedly these women and M in particular, left a huge impact on my then 21 year old heart.

Just the usual

19 Mar

Nothing like an “updates” post to beat the blogging lethargy.

The last year has seen me travel extensively for work and the only way I can do it all is because of my super supportive husband – he holds the fort when I am away, often for a week at a time and gets our little one fed, clothed and nurtured. Of course, daycare helps but it’s this guy who gets her there and himself to work and has things running smoothly. I left a sick little girl entirely in his care last week and worried my way through the first half of the week. But I needn’t have at all – he managed it all quite well and pushed himself beyond all possible limits last week, with childcare, work and everything else. I lucked out on this whole “choosing a partner” thing and he probably deserves much more than the airport chocolate I brought back home for him.

With regards to Bandar, she paid the doctor another visit last week and is appearing to still be fighting off some bad virus with a cough and cold. I am okay with this for the most part, as long as it isn’t the ears again or a fever. She passes this virus on to us as well and then we pass it back and forth merrily and can’t seem to shake it off. Oh well, things could be worse and it’s just a viral.

On the food front, we have been sticking to ordering in comfort food – creamy, rich malai kofta and paneer subjis and going out to have huge bowls of hot, delicious, soupy Ramen that hits the right spot on cold winter evenings. A bakery has opened a few doors down and we have indulged with some molten lava cake and it’s like.

I have been cooking in bulk a few days of the week to see us through extremely busy work days. Nothing majorly fancy – moong quinoa dosas and spicy chutneys for us (Nutella on the dosas for Bandar),hearty dals with some veggies thrown in   and some Thai curries now. On the days we exhaust the food and are in no mood for take-out, I make sandwiches with mozzarella, avocado, spinach and tomato in some combination with hummus. So good eats overall.

Work still stresses me out but I have realized I am one of those people who will always be worried and preoccupied with work and career stress. Things that seem minor to others, seem huge to me and I take my work far too seriously to be any different. I am learning to just do my best and let minor things roll of my back , but this is harder than it seems.

I had a good week in ATX from a “meeting friends” perspective and got to relax and unwind a bit after work. A lot of this unwinding involved good food in excess and I will need to work extra hard the next few weeks to keep those pounds at bay.

On the friends front, I have realized that there are just some marital problems I don’t get, thankfully. Husbands not standing up for wives when in laws and their relatives criticize the wife’s weight,mean in laws who insist on controlling every aspect of a couple’s life from India, 30 year old husbands who don’t stand up to said in law issues and so on. Of course, it’s not like I don’t have my own set of problems but these talks always make me thankful that some how things are manageable on my front , maybe thanks to the husbadoo being who he is. Or maybe I am just over sensitive and expect far too much support from the guy I married to deal with these kind of things. I come home and discuss these stories with him and ask him how he would have handled these situations, each time with bated breath, hoping he will give me the answer I expect. And so far he hasn’t disappointed!

I am learning to incorporate exercise into my evenings with Bandar. She lets me use the elliptical and plays in the vicinity. My workout is interrupted a few times and I have to breathlessly answer the million questions she poses, but I am funnily more amused than irritated by it all. That said, I have good work out days and bad ones and the bad ones largely outweigh the good in a week.

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