Archive | February, 2014

Letting go the reins – Our NYC apartment hunt saga

27 Feb

November – December 2013 marked a period of intense daily arguments as we prepared for our move to NYC.

So the husbadoo started his job at NYC in November and the plan was that Bandar  and I would join him after Christmas. His main task was to find us an apartment to move into.
Austin had really spoilt us rotten – lovely affordable apartments, complexes with gyms and swimming pools, stone’s throw away from work, coming home for lunch.
The last year in fact had been the best when we rented a huge 3 bedroom house and Bandar had tons of space to play and we had a backyard to grow our own veggies.

Everyone in NYC told us to lower our expectations and we solemnly agreed to.
Me – “Honey,  I am OK with no gym in the building. I can run outside .”
Him – ” Cool, we will run using our jogging stroller in the park ,together, as a family!”
This was before he left Austin.

Anyway , he set forth on this mission to find us a nest.

Calls during the first week after seeing about 5 houses-

Him – ” What do you think about moving our budget up?”
Me – ” By another $ 100 or so? Sure, if it is perfect ”
Him – ” No, I mean by about another $ 500. You might get a studio for our price range, definitely not a 2 bedroom.”
Me – ” You have got to be kidding me! You are not looking hard enough. I will send you some listings I saw online.”

The next day –
Him –  “Those listings are a ton of lies. Its a one bedroom flex – one 10×12  room with a movable wall. Place is a dump. You sent me on a wild goose chase for nothing”
Me –  “Oh really?But description seemed so good. What about the duplex you were going to see?”
Him – “That’s in an unsafe area. I am not even going to go see it. Broker himself advises again it. Terrible.  Stop sending me listings. You have no sense of safety,distance, direction, anything. I have been from one end of the city to the other with 2 different brokers today.”
Me – “I am just trying to help. About the safety factor, don’t worry too much. I read the area is gentrified now.”
Him – “I am not going to put my family in a possibly unsafe location. STOP LOOKING AT LISTINGS. I will handle this. Trust me.”

1 day later-
Me – “Babe, I was talking to S on gtalk .He lives in NYC too, you know.”
Him – “Oh! He must be thrilled you are moving here , I bet. Always liked you in college and hated me for dating you.”
Me – “What rubbish! Anyway, he said he pays more for a 1 bedroom than what we are budgeting for a 2 bedroom . Maybe we need to increase our budget?”
Him – “I have been saying the same thing for a week but you obviously will listen to the entire world and not your husband.”
Me – “No, no, just gave me a point of reference.”
Him – “Whatever, I am done for day. Will search with a new budget tomorrow”

Then the search progressed with us being $ 500 over our original set budget.
A few days in , maybe 20 houses seen and dismissed-
Him – “So this 2 bathroom thing, is it a deal breaker is it for you?”
Me – “Kind of, yes. Why?”
Him – “I saw a few with 1 bathroom but 2 bedrooms today.2 bathroom is not within this budget.”
Me – “Seriously, we just increased it by $ 500.”
Him – “Well, that got you the other bedroom. Now you have to increase it again for the bathroom.”
Me – “I am sure there are 2 bathroom apartments for this budget. I sent you some listings today morning. One was so perfect. 2 bathroom for sure, there were pictures also.”
Him – “Did I not tell you to stop looking at listings?”
Me – “I did not look. Had signed up for some alerts on this app and that sent me the listings. Just go check this one out.”

A few hours later,
Him – “Single bathroom only. Broker confirmed that it is the same image from a different angle. I can see it if you are okay with 1 bathroom.”
Me – ” I am NOT OK with that. You knew how much I wanted 2 bathrooms. Impossible to share with long term family visitors. That’s the only thing I want. ”
Him – “Then increase your price range. This is not reasonable.”
Me – “I am done talking to you right now, I need to tend to Bandar. Bye.”
Him – “I am also done looking at houses for a bit. Taking a break for a few days and anyway, I am coming to Austin in 2 days for Thanksgiving.”

Morning before he boards a flight to Austin.
Me – “Babe, There is a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom I’m the area you wanted. A broker called me.’
Him – “Why are you still contacting brokers? I told you to take a break.”
Me – “I had emailed him 1 week ago and he contacted me now. Go and see this today. You have 6 hours.”

Husbadoo rushes and sees the place and likes it. It is over the new budget by $200.But seems fine otherwise.

Him – “Place seems fine. Best I have seen so far. I am putting a deposit down before we lose it to someone else.”
Me – “Quick question, does it have a gym. It said doorman building , so was wondering if it had any other facilities.”
Him – “Gym?!? You have to be kidding me. No dishwasher and washer -dryer in the basement. Be happy you don’t have to go to a Laundromat outside. But seriously a good apartment otherwise. I am going ahead.”
Me – “Okay. Go ahead. I am so proud of you for finding a place for us. Come home quickly.”

So the husbadoo withdraws money and puts down a deposit and boards his flight to Austin thinking he was done.

But it wasn’t the end!!Part 2 follows soon.

Conflicting Parenting

26 Feb

Growing up, I was over protected to a fault – extra layers of clothing, doctor visits at even the slightest sniffle, mashed food till maybe 2 to prevent choking as a baby and toddler and so on…
As I grew older, it was no venturing out of the colony alone, no crossing roads alone , no playing in the balcony alone…
Later it was no returning late , no traveling alone by trains past a certain time, no eating from roadside vendors …
All of the last set I obviously did not follow through college.
My parents are chronic worriers.Even now, if i return after 10 pm from a business trip, my dad is terribly upset and tracking my flights as he sits in India.
Recently, my folks panicked when our cell phones were not charged for 14 hours and we had last spoken to then from a subway ride to dinner at 8 pm. They went mad with worry about us being out ‘late’ in NYC and getting mugged and not making it home.
Anyway, the point is they sometimes are paranoid about safety.
I do not know whether to get frustrated at their worries or be glad that they care about me. I have shouted, scoffed,cried and even laughed over the years at their worries but for the most part have told myself they are past change and I am just going to be different when it comes to my kids. This was obviously before I had kids!

The husabdoo on the other hand grew up with parents who were pretty relaxed about their kids. I wouldn’t go as far as to say they were lax, but some of the stuff he tells me shocks me.
He had a concussion in the playground that no one knew about, he has been out with friends till the wee hours of the morning since his early teens, he was almost swept away by a river on a holiday, months of untreated illnesses left to heal themselves- the list is long.
The thing is if we were both on a tall tree, my mom would be yelling for us to come down safely , while my mother in law would be edging us on to go a branch higher or coming up herself!

So it is an interesting mix as we parent the Bandar.
We have a flimsy little stool at home and when I was traveling for work a few weeks ago, I get a worried whatsapp message from my mom to please tell the husbadoo to ” put the stool away” when I next spoke to him. Reading her message at 5 am in the morning , i promptly understood that the husbadoo was probably slacking in his poppy diaper disposal chore , only to find out that the little flimsy stool was the cause of my mother’s woe. Apparently while skyping with my parents , Bandar had stood on this stool and turned around and around. As the stool is barely 12 inches of the ground and she was doing this on carpented flooring, the hsuabdoo saw no cause for worry. On the same evening he also skyped with my in laws who watched proudly as Bandar climbed nimbly on her car seat by the couch, pulled herself up on the couch over the arm and proceeded to scale the headrest of the couch- encouraged wildly by her dad and paternal grandparents. My sure footed little mountain goat of a daughter! The husbadoo clicked pics for my benefit and I rather my folks never see these.
I am obviously my parents daughter and moved the stool out of sight and the car seat to a closet.
So it is going to be a fun journey parenting the Bandar through the years. Hopefully we won’t send her too many mixed messages that drive her to the psychologist’s couch sooner than necessary!

#100HappyDays – Day 3

24 Feb

Saturday was a glorious day weather – wise.Temperature in the 50s after days of snow, brilliant blue skies and a pleasant breeze all around.
We bundled up Bandar and set off to Central Park.I realized that we are indeed blessed to live a block from the park. There were scores of runners and cyclists on the trails and we had to move to the slowest walking path with our stroller.
Bandar walked a good bit and I got some nice pics of the father-daughter duo.
I have read about falling in love with your partner all over again on seeing him/ her as a parent but never really experienced it till now.
Bandar brings a certain softness to the husbadoo’s face , movements that really reflected in every picture I clicked. I love seeing the husbadoo as a dad and really this was my 1st happy moment of the day.

We were carrying Bandar’s lunch with us and she ate sitting on a park bench as I read her her new Noddy book. I am hoping my little girl loves reading as much as I do and do believe we have started as early as we can. Sitting through a Noddy at 17 months and following along, albeit in a lot of my own words is quite remarkable.
I hesitated spending $ 5 on a second hand Noddy on Amazon wondering if I would get it cheaper in India but I am glad I bought it for her. She seems to love it and she runs around saying – ” Milko Milko” , like the Milkman in the book.
Reading Enid Blyton to my toddler in Central Park – Happy moment# 2.

After lunch, Bandar needed some persuading to get back into her cozy stroller. Once she did , we walked over to the Upper East side in search of a specific burger place. Bandar dozed off in her stroller and we kept her in it through our lunch.
Eating out with Bandar is a task. You have to multitask in entertaining her, feeding her, ensuring she doesn’t knock over water or anything else , order your own food and eat.
It has been a while since the husbadoo and I have had a sleeping
Bandar at lunch, and it led to us goofing off, taking selfies and over all just relaxing and enjoying our overpriced but yummy NYC veggie burger.Of course, it wasn’t spillfree thanks to my clumsiness but enjoyable enough to qualify as happy moment # 3.

#100Happydays – Day 2

22 Feb

I have hated afternoon naps since I can remember.
I recall playing quietly by myself as a three year old while my parents had a weekend post lunch siesta.
I had even the hardest time napping mid-day during my maternity leave, when everyone tells you to catch up on your sleep, when the baby is napping.
I preferred catching up 90210 and Gossip Girl on Netflix.
The husbadoo can sleep any time , any place. So I am usually bored stiff when he and Bandar snuggle up on weekends.
Anyway, Bandar attends daycare only for half a day on Friday.
My work currently is pretty light on Friday afternoons and I love spending this half day with her.
Today , I picked up Bandar at 12:45pm and sauntered home through the frosty NY streets. There was a strong wind but temperatures were fairly bearable.
We got home and after reading her 2 books, she snuggled close for a nap. Surprisingly I found myself drifting off too and had quite a pleasant 1 hour snooze.The coziness of the plush comforter over us , the faint toddler smell of playdough and paints, the rhythm on the sound machine, the sound of rain hitting the window pane were all contributing factors
This was happy moment number 1 today.

Moment 2 was having the husbadoo take charge of Friday night dinner.
Stretchy Buffalo Mozzarella cheese , crusty Ciabatta bread,Spinach, peach salsa, spicy jalapeño hummus – a delectable sandwich indeed.
Thank you Trader Joes for your supply of lovely ingredients. Walking 25 minutes one way midweek to pick up these goodies and lugging them back is absolutely worth it , all to sink your teeth into this lovely creation. If we ever realize our dream of retiring in Hawaii and opening a simple sandwich shop, this sandwich definitely makes it on the menu!

#100HappyDays – Day 1

21 Feb

So I guess I am usually not your bouncing-of-the-walls happy, joyous person.
Off late, the husbadoo has taken to reading Bandar her abridged Snowwhite and the Seven Dwarfs aloud and looking at my pointedly when Grumpy is introduced.No kidding, he does this for real! Also saying sadly in a recent fight that his only aim over the last 10 years has been to please me but he has failed!( Honey- Just shave everyday, I do not recollect exactly but I am sure our fight did touch on this)
Anyway, heart rending fight statements aside , I can definitely do with some more documenting the everyday cheer in my life. So that is what these posts are going to be about. I am also not playing by the rules here and aiming for consecutive days. Just 100 happy days in a reasonable period of time – say, 6 months?

Moment 1:
Might be a little TMI , but the day got off to a good start. The husbadoo was dozing at 10 am in the morning after I dropped Bandar off at school and had 2 conference calls under my belt. Instead of pushing him out of the house with a mini fight, I instead enquired if all was well,only to be pulled into the warmest snuggle. Snuggles led to some rather interesting morning activity and this is always a fun way to start the day.

Moment 2:
After fun morning activities, we decided to ignore the dry adais I had in the fridge and set off to try a new to us Thai place. The weather was in the 40s and I enjoyed walking with with the husbadoo to lunch.
I did my specific request of no fish sauce, Oyster sauce or eggs in my order and was slightly disappointed on hearing there were exactly 2 real “vegetarian” options. I distrustingly went with one expecting a poor lunch and was pleasantly surprised at what I got. Pretty yummy without any trace of fish sauce.

Moment 3:
I might have blown my fuse at the husbadoo towards the end of the day as he lazed around watching one of his numerous shows online instead of filling out pressing immigration paperwork. Instead, just in the nick of time, Bandar who was asleep, let out a cry for me (or her bottle more likely) and as I soothed her back to sleep and the husbadoo brought in a warm bottle, I counted my two blessings. A helpful husbadoo and a delightful bandar (and smart to boot – saved her dad from a shouting afterall).
Before I meet any more trying moments today that threaten the day’s overall happiness quotient, I am off to bed.

Remote in the City!

21 Feb

So over the Winter holidays, we did something pretty major. We packed up our lives in Texas and moved to New York city! This was brought up by the husbadoo  getting one step closer to pursuing his dream of an academic career. (Oh glorious career in academia, you are within arm’s reach now. Come quickly and bring with you calm and some sort of permanency for us)

Anyway, given that my company allows employees to work remote, we thought it best that I take them up on this option, atleast for the time being.

Working remote perpetually everyday is really a different ball game than working from home occasionally.

When we lived in Austin, especially the year after Bandar was born I enjoyed and looked forward to the occasional work from home day (or wfh day , as it is often abbreviated to). However after moving to NYC and doing this every single day for the last 6 weeks, I have some mixed feelings.

Maybe at this point in our lives, I should see this opportunity as a blessing but I am really struggling with it for some reason.

Pros

1)      With Bandar being sick these last 8 days with her cold, high temps and ear infection with starting preschool, I am really grateful I can be with her.It is not easy managing a crying baby with a full time high stress tech marketing job but I have done this for a week now. I did contact my back up care options that my employer offers but no one was able to get to us in short notice in the bad weather we experienced .A part tof me was actually relieved as I was stressing about getting Bandar accustomed to a new temporary caregiver given her bad separation anxiety. But given the fact that back up care was not an option, I handled her by myself, worked to some extent and even made ragda pattice(minus chutnies) for dinner.  It is true that Bandar got more screen time than she has ever bene exposed to in her life , but it really helped that I did not have to worry about getting my butt to work .

2)      Bandar starting school itself has been hard on us.It helps that I work CST(Central Standard Time) from home living on the East Coast.And boy, I really make that 1 hour count. It means, that I do not have to stress about logging  on to my laptop before 9 am EST.It means, I can wake up Bandar at 8 am EST and get her ready and bundled up for school.It means I can spend a  good 15 mintues talking to her teachers.It means I can get out of the hosue with home clothes underneath my outerwear and pretty much no make up.It means I can trot back enjoying the busy NYC streets and get home at 9:20 EST, make myself a cup of tea and sit down to my Texas based job at a reasonably early time.It also helps that I am currently working with a vendor who is on PST(4 hours behind).I know lots of parents have their kids in daycare at 8 am and are on their way to work in the subway.That is not us, yet!The husbadoo and I have a lot to learn in terms of organization.Maybe we will get to it in a year.

3)      I can pick up Bandar at 4:30 PM EST. Bandar is in school from 9:15 am – 4:30 pm.I personally think this is long enough for her at 16 months. We thought the husbadoo picking her up every day was best. When his professor made a nasty comment about junior faculty coming in at 11 am and heading ou t at 4 pm, I felt I needed to take this upon myself.Yes, the husbadoo has to get his butt to work earlier. No idea why he cannot break out of the damn PhD and Post Doc cycle of working late into the wee hours of the night and waking up past a decent hour in the morning. He is often getting himself ready when I come in after dropping off Bandar.We know this has to stop.Meanwhile, the pick has to happen at 4:30 PM, latest!  I once got to school at 4:40 pm and Bandar was a little antsy as she had seen a few parents come.I actually remember being 3 years old in preschool myself and being awfully sad that my mom was last.So for her sake, I need to leave home at 4 pm and be at school at 4:15 for a quick chat with her teachers  and to pcik her up.This is 3 pm CST.Makes me effectively work 8:30 am- 3 pm CST but I also clock a crapload of hours after Bandar sleeps.Work gets done and honestly that is all my bosses care about.

4)      I think I can actually sneak in a workout during my lunch.As I honestly cannot see myself buying a 125$ /month gym membershiphere , I am trying to get in a 1 hr workout with Jillian Michaels videos at home.Also my 1 mile walk a day for pick ups and drops , my twice a day walk up to our 5th floor walk up apartment should be helping the booty.I hope! When we lived in Texas and I went into work on most days, I did sneak a workout during my lunch at the office gym but I often did only cardio.At home I am alternating with weights and cardio.

5)      I do not feel tempted to shop for clothes.I did do a good bit of winter wear shopping before we moved to NYC. But as I am physically not going to work everyday, I do not online browse at Macys, the Limited, the Loft, Bananan Republic.All the store sites I loved.I am not even tempted to buy  shoes or bags etc.So that has to be some $$ saved

6)      I do think I tend to eat a tad healthier at home.I hated taking a salad to work. And no way was I paying money to get myself  a salad in the cafeteria when the same $$ could buy me  a healthyish pizza.At home, I am ok eating a salad or a silly lil sandwich

7)      The weather in NYC this month has been nuts.Born and raised in the tropics( Bombay is practically the tropics, right??) I am totally fine, staying warm at home and toasting my toes against the radiator as I work.

8)      Cooking healthier meals for my family and myself, being there for my child in general –  all this is probably a summary  of the above, but I do count me working form home during this transition period as a big pro.

 Cons:

1)      The biggest con – I feel I am in a career rut. How do I explain this better?I am in 28 years old, reasonably high up in my organization and really the next position I could aspire too would either be an at par with same pay heading a team as a senior manager, or one step up as a director heading a mini global organization. Both these my management team is clear that they cannot set me up for as I am a remote employee. So I see my peers about 20 years older, with less education and really less smarter in my book being set up for positions which I could have also tried for (not necessarily landed , but could have atleast aimed for). It makes me sigh and worry that I am wasting myself and not giving my career its due.I miss the rat race, I really do. I think I am too young to be content with what I make for the work I do. I want more and more and more and by this I do not necessarily mean $$$. I mean in terms of quality of work,career growth and progression. Am I phrasing this badly?I feel  my career is in the back seat. I know this is not permanent and I know I will still be reasonably young when we are out of this situation but right now I do feel all ” Oh poor little career girl is sitting at home” 

2)      I earn a Texas based salary for NYC. Makes me cringe a bit thinking about the tax cuts for my once healthy looking texas salary.Enough said.

3)      I miss dressing up for work . Is it shallow to say that for 6 years a large part of my existence was picking a cute outfit for work?

4)      I miss the co worker interaction.I miss the banter, I miss the conversations about non work related stuff that being in the office leads to.I miss the coffee breaks, team lunches with frineds and coworkers.

 

There! Listing does help.  I am going to read through when I hit a particularly sad moment and tell myself that the pros outweigh the cons , atleast for now.