Sunday, December 14

It is NOT your business

Hello readers!

So my darling husband (upon my repeated insistence) very generously read my last post lovingly written for him and his (only) reaction was that I have lost my writing spark and I am out of practice.

He obviously did not pay heed to the fact that I wrote the post more on an emotional and nostalgic plane than as a literary artefact.

But never mind that. He never was the romantic and mushy types anyway. As much as I would love to read something that he has written for me, his reading what I have penned is enough. After all, he does take care of me and pamper me in most ways feasible. He’s not a bad chap... Just different.  

Well, he’s become a dad and I’ve become a mom and while I can’t say it’s perfect yet (we’re still in the phase where we’re dealing with changing nappies and feeding and dealing with the cranky infant 24x7), it sure is a memorable time. Memories good and not so good. The good ones involve the baby obviously. The not so good ones are about nosy people and their gross insensitivity.

I have never really been fond of guests and relatives for the simple reason that most people I am related or acquainted with are selfish, greedy buggers. They couldn’t care less about me or my family and are only to be seen when they need or stand to acquire something. Obviously now that I have had a baby, it is common courtesy that they come to see me. The incentive is what is known as “badhaai” which literally means congratulations, but is synonymous with a gift (cash or any costly object) that the grandparents give as a token of happiness to people who visit.

Anyway, I shall choose to ignore that tiny (nauseating) detail, and focus on the more annoying bit - their stupid, intrusive questions.

First of all, I fail to grasp why people are interested in the mode of delivery. A normal, healthy baby has arrived in this world; rejoice! Why do you want to know how he came? Whether he was delivered normally or through a C section is none of anybody’s business. And even if your inquisitiveness cannot be reined in, at least do not react or comment when you receive the information! You really have nothing to lose or gain either way.

An increasing number of deliveries across the world are cesarean, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. All of us need to understand that it is either the mother’s choice (or the lack thereof) that decides this aspect. Most women I think would opt and try their best for a normal delivery but circumstances may require a change in plans. Like it happened in my case, and with a few of my colleagues and friends. And then there are those that voluntarily go for a c section given the number of complications that accompany a normal delivery: a displaced uterus (or other organs), episiotomy, excessive bleeding, etc.

I repeat, either way, it is none of anybody’s business. Except the mother, her caretaker and the doctor. What is destined will happen, what is best for the mother and baby needs to be done. That’s all that matters – the mother and baby. Nobody else.

So really, behaving like somebody’s died or something very unfortunate has occurred is not warranted. Not in public, and especially not in front of the mother and family. It is highly derogatory and irritating.

Second, people inspect the baby as if they are authorized personnel trained for this task, and then make snide comments about things like their features, body parts, hair and weight. Gawd! Don’t you friggin understand that the baby is the most beautiful creature on earth for the family, and nothing will change their perception irrespective of what anyone says?! Try and be appreciative of the baby and mother, and if that is not possible, forever hold your silence! Again, whether the baby has more hair on his head or less, and whether his nose is crooked or not is NOT YOUR BUSINESS.

Unless you are sponsoring his cosmetic surgeries.

Third, and this is the most irksome bit: people asking questions like “how come your stomach is still showing?” and “are you getting enough milk?”


WHAT???


How can you ask these questions???


No really…. HOW???


What are you going to do with both these answers?

I would really be grateful if people only said “take care” and f*cked off. My tummy (big or small) is my concern, and the adequacy of my milk is my baby’s problem. Both of which I shall capably and successfully solve, thank you very much. We will not blame you, and we will not come asking for your milk, rest assured. Your interference and officiousness is truly NOT necessary.  

All of these issues are highly personal, and can only be shared between people who are intimate. As a visitor, one needs to only meet and congratulate, wish well and leave. A baby is a miracle, and a new mother is fragile and exhausted. Cut both of them some slack and watch what you say or do. Why enquire and hurt someone when it is really not your business?

And trust me, it is NOT your business at all.

As I end this post, I request you to not behave this way if you have in the past. Anytime you feel the itchiness to ask these questions or make random comments, please chant this mantra…


It is NOT my business.


It is NOT my business.


It is NOT my business.


Thrice repeated slowly and honestly should be enough to calm your meddlesome mind.   

Janhit mein jaari.
(=Issued in public interest)


Best,
First-time Mommy aka Princess 

Friday, November 28

You're a Pa, Mate!

Hi Sweetheart,

Welcome to Fatherhood!

You’re an incredible person, and I can think of a hundred reasons why I love you.

Yeah yah, I know you don’t believe in having reasons to love somebody, but then you and I disagree on so many things; let this be another pleasant one… Just so that I can find ways to praise you and express how much I adore you. I never tire of it, and I don’t think you have any reason to do so either. “Neki aur pooch pooch” as they say in Hindi.

I have known you as a very different person as compared to the rest of the world. True, you are charming and you manage to awe both men and women alike. (Something that really worries me, given that people confuse gentlemanliness for flirting in the current century.)

However, it is my perception that you have given me a special privilege to know you as you are, and you keep a slightly more opaque exterior to the rest of humanity. Let me be blissful in this ignorance if I am mistaken.

I met an uptight, serious man while working at IBM nearly 4 years ago who left absolutely no impression on me. Since we were in the same team and cab, I struck a polite conversation with you, and was sort of surprised to learn that you could talk nonstop to an almost stranger about something I consider quite personal. Scarcely did I realize that you thought I was hitting on you! That was the last thing on my mind; I was only trying to be friendly to a new team-mate. But that is how destiny shapes up, right? Misunderstandings lead to new beginnings...

One thing led to another and I found myself chatting with you on IBM Sametime and going on coffee breaks with you – something that raised more than a few eyebrows in our gossip-crazy VnA team. I knew there was nothing between us, you barely spoke and I did not find much in common with you. But you knew that something would definitely happen – something I got to know much later. Your intuition is appreciable, young man. Keep it up.

We started meeting outside of work, you made special effort to meet me on my birthday; I knew something was in the air. You asked me out, and I said I needed time. You waited for all of 8 months as I made up my mind and on October 17, 2011, I decided I was ready to be yours.

That was not the end of it; it was actually the beginning of our struggle.

Neither of our parents was thrilled about our decision, for their own reasons. I still remember vividly how I tried to win your dad over on phone while you paced around listening to our dialogue in the University of Pune garden at dusk. You came over in a brave attempt to convince my parents, and I still marvel at your courage and straightforwardness. Phew... you've got balls, young man!

Countless strategizing sessions and convincing conversations later, we managed to win the support of my family, while yours remained hostile. That did not deter you, and you kept insisting we elope. Now I think, maybe we should have! It would be another adventure in our awesome journey together....

Amidst honor killing threats, we dealt with our own sweet and bitter fights. I got to know you better, and it was like knowing someone entirely different from the person I had first met… 

To cut a long story short, things kind of worked out and I found myself getting ready for our big day. June 29, 2012 we got married and started a new chapter in our lives. It was just like the movies – we won some, we lost some, we got better and sometimes we got worse. We annoyed and impressed and hurt and loved and disappointed and frustrated each other. 

Some days were just unbearable, and others were a delight. We created great and not so good memories and we learnt pleasant habits and hard lessons. But all the while, we stuck together and got stronger.   

We are so dissimilar, you and I. And yet, we stand united for all the things that truly matter. 

We crossed so many hurdles, both personal and professional, and we fulfilled so many dreams, both individual and shared. Buying bikes and a house and car, traveling within and outside the country, both of us getting promoted at work, and so many other milestones in our topsy-turvy lives… Well done, baby.

All those superb bike rides to CCD Chandni Chowk and back at dawn, wandering in the Goan streets for Lavazza coffee and warm apple pie, endless shopping trips in Phoenix mall and camp, our Mabi honeymoon and Kerala escapade, Baskin Robbin and Venky’s chicken cravings, fixations with sizzlers at Prem’s and Bounty’s… hours seem few when I think of you and the wondrous memories you’ve given me. They stay interspersed with the wicked moments where you and I upset each other, misunderstood and isolated each other… All the while, knowing true and well that we would always be together… But then doubting that too…   

You took care of me when I had my eye surgery done and I got a chance to pamper you when you banged your head against a truck and fractured your arm. All those countless times you took me on midnight dates before and post marriage and all the innumerable occasions when you fell ill and made me fret. When I was about to deliver our precious child, you held my hand through the unbearable pain and gave me strength. It was touching to see my agony reflected in your pretty eyes.

We have done well and we could only have done it together, no matter how much you and I highlighted (or minimized) our individual roles in these events when the going got tough.
And now, here we are, with yet another milestone in our lives. Probably the biggest one till date, I can say.

Our baby arrived into this world on November 15, 2014 and made us a family from just a bickering, love-struck couple. My passion for you has increased with this upgrade, and words fail me as I begin to thank you for taking such amazing care of me during my pregnancy. True, it wasn’t all rosy and idyllic, but I will certainly recall it with much warmth and happiness. You tried to make me happy and pampered me like a little girl. Thank you.
We now have a new identity, we are now proud parents of our little bundle of joy. This blessing, this gorgeous miracle is god’s gift to us and I am sure he is just as lucky to have us as we are to have him. We have great things planned for him, and he has brought good fortune to both our families while he was still in my tummy. With him gracing this world, I rejoice that all our lives will get happier and more satisfying.   

Thank you for giving me this lovely present – this beautiful ray of sunshine which will brighten our days and lives. It will be tough at times, but I am sure we will cope up brilliantly just like we have done in the past.

I love you Akhilesh Singh, and you’re a wonderful man… don’t you forget that, even when I am abusing the s*it out of you during my moody witch moments.  

I know you will be a better husband and father every passing day, and both Arush and I are glad to have you in our lives.

Stay happy, my darling. I will love you till the end of time, and later too.

Just yours for eternity…
Through phases of affection and squabbles…


Love,
Anuja   

Monday, October 27

I am...

Hiya!

I am laughing at silly things until tears roll down my cheeks. 

I am getting heavier and life is getting a tad tougher.

I am forgetting things; for someone as organized and reliable as me, this can be quite disturbing.

I am finding it difficult to sleep, and yet I can nap at most times. 

I am getting clumsier by the minute, dropping things and tripping and slipping for no apparent cause.

I can't concentrate, and I drift away into nothingness ever so often. 

I am finding the simplest of actions is turning out to be a challenge.

I am becoming more of a sweet tooth than usual, yearning for chocolates and sweets and ice creams every other day.  

I am sweating like I never have before, and I find the coolest rooms warm. 

I am able to control my temper a wee bit better, but I also get emotional and detached at times. 

I am more careful about my exercise routine, but I cheat on my drinks and junk food. 

I think my hearing and vision has slightly diminished, and my sensitivity has slightly increased. 

I get tearsome at the tiniest of stuff - when something is genuine, when someone is upset, when I am touched or hurt, or just about anything at all. 

I am meeting more and more pregnant people. 

I am being pampered by family, and my friends and colleagues are taking good care of me,

I am excited... and nervous... and scared... and hopeful. 

All at the same time. 

I am not going to be a child anymore, though my kiddishness will remain intact and become even more expressed now. 

I am 9+ months pregnant, and going to be a mommy soon!!

It's a new world, and a new experience. 

I am loving this feeling, this warmth, this affection and softness inside me.

Wish me luck! 


Cheerio!
Princess



Wednesday, September 3

Customer Service - A New Creed of Horror Stories

Hiya'all...

Just saw that my blog is 7 years old. Quite a thrilling thought! Thanks to you readers. Restekpa (= respect). And lots of love to you. 

Have been wondering about customer service for a while, and really wanted to write to you about some of my latest experiences as a consumer of various products and services. It's quite an alien concept in India to care for your customers, and you are viewed more as an inconvenience than God as the famous proverb goes. 

The first one is about my Thailand trip arranged by Flight Shop Pune (Phoenix Market City). This was a new agency that I tried, a change from my regular Makemytrip, Kesari and Yatra vendors. The reason primarily was cost, and also I found the itinerary better suited for my needs. Unfortunately, expectations were not met and I ended up pretty hassled during my leisure vacation. My travel executive Swapnil, who was very diligent during the entire planning and payment process, took off on a trip days before my travel and directed all my correspondence to his supervisor - an extremely unprofessional chap called Saurabh. It was all downhill from there. 

I reached Bangkok with no clue where our host was parked, and my husband sensibly bought a SIM card due to which we could connect with our India and Thailand travel representatives. After wasting quite a good amount of time and money, we finally figured out where the host was, and we set off for our first destination - Pattaya. The driver refused to stop enroute for lunch as was promised by Saurabh, and I was fuming throughout our drive famished, munching on some biscuits and fruit that I had packed for the journey. 

We reached Ibis Pattaya and met our local host who was pretty decent. You can read about my sightseeing experience here . 

However, what was really annoying was that they prohibited me to go to Coral Island owing to safety reasons. Now that should have been informed to us earlier so that we could have planned our trip better. The refund they offered was also not fair, and I was extremely pissed with this turn of events; I hate it when my travel plans go haywire. My husband and I did manage to make the most of our trip, though, but it was considerably tedious and upsetting.  

At Bangkok, we were told that there would be a city tour and we would be shown two famous temples - the Reclining Buddha and Golden Buddha. What actually happened was that we were only taken to the Jewel store, an exact replica of the Pattaya one which did not interest us one bit, and the Golden Buddha and Garuda temple. This made absolutely no sense to us, and we saw the planned destinations anyway, albeit on our our expense. Calling a hundred times from Thailand to the tour operator was absolutely useless and we wasted a lot of time and money, along with peace of mind on conveying our displeasure to Saurabh - who could not be less interested. 

After our return to India, I tried communicating with Swapnil, but that turned out to be like breaking my head on a brick wall. Obviously, since Saurabh was his supervisor. So, I had only one option left - I reached out to their manager - Jatin Sharma. Thankfully, this chap was more sensible and customer-centric. Not only was his manner polite, but he also offered me a just resolution. My decision remains intact despite that - I would not want to use Flight Shop again to plan any of my travel needs. 

Another experience, was at Just Baked on DP Road - a cake shop that I used to love during my teenage years. The joint served fresh and tasty pastries and snacks, expensive yet worth it. If you know me, you know that I have the majorest sweet tooth in the entire universe. When I last went to JB, they served us some stale pastries and I was not surprisingly disappointed and upset. Most people generally offer a refund or another pastry to appease a dissatisfied customer. Not this obnoxious man - he actually started calling me names. I cursed him loud and clear, and have not set foot in his store since. What a disgrace, how the mighty fall. I would not be shocked to know that they are out of business given that other cake shops serve much better ware at the same price and offer good customer care as well.

I could recount so many more to you, and I am sure you have your own set of stories to share. Go ahead! Let's all join our hands in mercy and pray that consumers get better treatment. Agreed, customer is not always right, but there's got to be a more courteous way to deal with them than hurting and losing them for life. 

Until we meet next!

Cheerio!
Princess




Wednesday, August 6

Thailand Sojourn


Ahem.

Yes. It HAS been 6 weeks that I haven’t written to you. Sorry. Big sorry. Like the super mammoth one. Guilty as hell, but all with good reason.

Being busy at work is stale news, but what’s absolutely taaza maal is that I was nominated for a popular award “Rookie of the Year” and I won with a thumping majority. My colleagues voted for me with all their love and goodwill, branding me the most talented, inspiring, motivated recruit of the year 2013-2014. Ten months in Hitachi Consulting and I thank God I came here every single day. My work and team are great, and as I enjoy what I do, work pressure is totally absent in my life. Good thing, I don’t need stress right now anyway.

Another piece of news is that I celebrated my birthday in July so my hubby and I took off to Thailand to celebrate. I brought in my last birthday in Goa so we had to make it large this time. While Thailand appeared an off choice to most people, we realized that we could do an international tour for the same cost as a domestic package. The only venues I am interested in India are Kashmir, Agra and the North East. July is not the most ideal time to visit any of these locations and voila, Bangkok-Pattaya it was!

A week in Thailand and let me tell you it was relaxing for sure if nothing else. Food and communication were a challenge even to a non-veg loving avid traveler like me, and that could be a serious concern for traditional, vegetarian tourists. KFC and McD’s abound there but none of them serves even one vegetarian option apart from the drinks and fries. Seafood is cooked and sold right on the streets of Bangkok, while the fancy restaurants are expensive and serve limited veg options. Akhilesh thoroughly enjoyed the chicken at KFC, but I did not relish it much. My birthday Thai lunch in Bangkok, I must say, was exciting – a Thai chicken curry with steamed rice and Crab spring rolls. Apart from that, I had to rely on the snacks that I had carried from India – my mum’s homemade delicacies and some other packed stuff.

To tell you the truth, Bangkok resembles Mumbai and Pattaya is like Goa, even the Bangkok-Pattaya motorway is identical to the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Shopping and sex are the main sources of income throughout Thailand, and that is evident on the billboards and streets. Semi-nude women (none of them sexy or alluring in my opinion) dancing and luring tourists embarrassed my loyal, loving hubby in Pattaya and the Alcazar show was also quite repulsive to him. Sadly, I was looking forward to it and it turned out to be disappointing.

Indians were not rare, and the loudest hoots and cheers came when “Nach Le” was played in the theater. Even in Bangkok, Indians came running to dance on stage when they were welcomed at Safari World… Some enthusiasm our lot’s got! And lack of hygiene as well. There were signs specially put up for Indian tourists to keep toilets and surroundings clean. It was shameful, but I was compelled to agree. It’s sad really, to see that we have absolutely zero bathroom etiquette, even the educated ones amongst us. These things need to be taught at home right in childhood, else we grow up and bring disgrace to our country and fellowmen.  

So, on to more pleasant topics… What did we see in Thailand?

Mini Siam, Pattaya – This lovely place has miniatures of a lot of famous spots around the world on display. While the absence of Indian monuments is striking (they only had a poster of the Taj Mahal), they have a lot of international and local attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, London Bridge, Opera House, Colloseum, and Thai places of importance. This sprawling garden can get tiresome to tread, but the displays are beautiful, and the maintenance mind-blowing. We also discovered that Ramayana has a parallel story in Thailand as we were browsing the souvenir shops.      

Underwater World – This is one attraction you absolutely can’t miss in Pattaya. There are a variety of marine creatures here and it is very exciting to watch them all surrounding and floating around you. Scary, too! We went berserk taking pictures. Thank god for cams on cell phones! Since we were not allowed to go for the Coral island tour, this was certainly a must-visit for us.

Alcazar Show – The highlight of Pattaya, meant to be a cabaret, but it was sadly low on energy and enthusiasm. The colors, costumes and glamour were intact, and dance forms from around the world were included in the show. Indians, needless to say, were howling like idiots and taking pictures, even video-shooting the entire show, desperate buggers.  

Pattaya beach – Very clean, that is what I remember about the seashore. The water was transparent and crystal-like, and it was such a refreshing change from what we see in India. No rubbish in the water, no garbage on the sand. No shacks either, for that matter. There are some beach chairs, and you can only sit on them for a fee. That part was ridiculous, but I guess that’s the price you pay for the maintenance.

MBK Mall – This is a famous electronic and garment mall, similar to several other malls in Bangkok like the Platinum Fashion Mall and Golden Plaza, etc. While items are not dirt cheap, they sure have a lot of variety for smaller sized women and men. The worst bit is that all shops shut by 8 pm so you can’t saunter around leisurely. Street markets are on until late, but the malls will be deserted as soon as dusk sets in.   

Safari World and Marine Park – Another attraction you cannot miss at Bangkok. This is a zoo cum circus which offers full day entertainment to children and adults alike. We thoroughly enjoyed the Orangutan show, Elephant Show, Dolphin and Sea Lion Show. The ride around the Safari Park was quite amazing as well and I was reminded of my thrilling safaris in Africa as a teenager.

Bangkok Temple Tour – While Bangkok has over 4000 temples, there are some that are hot tourist destinations. First among these is the Golden Buddha temple which has an 18 carat golden Buddha statue that is about 10 feet tall and weighs 5.5 tonnes. It is quite a mesmerizing sight, this dazzling glowing piece of work, and you need to walk all of 3 flights of stairs to gaze upon its marvelousness. The second is the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. This temple is known to be the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage (but I only realized that while browsing just now). The temple has more than a thousand Buddha images, the most significant among them being the reclining deity 160 feet in length. It is stunning to say the least, and should you be interested, you can check this link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Pho
We also saw the Garuda temple in Bangkok – honestly all the temples and idols look the same, and I am not the historically inclined types. But yeah, the 2 mentioned above, surely were worth a dekko.  

We stayed at the Ibis in Pattaya and the Best Western in Bangkok, both very decent hotels right in the heart of town. Indian restaurants are many in Thailand, but the food was pretty average and obviously costly. Shopping for clothes and souvenirs was all we did, as neither Akhilesh nor I are very fond of this expensive pastime. Besides, you find everything everywhere these days so no item is a novelty.

A four hour nonstop flight brought us back to Bombay from Bangkok and we got back the 1.5 hours that we had missed while flying to Thailand. I managed to catch up a bit on my reading (“Only Time Will Tell”) but I could only finish the book a few days ago back in Pune-land. My fingers are now laid upon A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and I have enjoyed watching movies like Hercules and Kick. Of course, family engagements and other domestic chores are back on…

So now you know what I have been up to these past couple of weeks. See you sooner next time. Hope you are enjoying the rains!


Cheerio!
Princess