Posted in Challenges, Dreams, Self-growth, Uncategorized

A giant leap of faith

Dear Diary,

You may remember (thankfully, you always do, unlike husbands!) about my List of 30 and my Dream No 16. Well Well! The post is about that.

After having dabbled in my career for 11 yrs now, I had almost lost hope of pursuing this any more. I had almost reached to the point where a dream seems like a silly idea any more and you trash it.

So, recently, our company started an IDP process – Individual Development Plan.

Under this program, the manager extends an IDP form to his best employees. This is an endeavor to make people feel cared for, and to know (secretly) if they are interested in quitting 😉

Well! I believe the idea is pretty novel. And, there are very few workplaces who like to invest any time or thought into what ’employees’ want. So, I think I’m deeply impressed by my company AND by the management for following up on this diligently.

So, with the IDP, I was forced to acknowledge, reconsider and reopen my now-closed-pandora-box of dreams. And, I realized there’s nothing else I would like to try more than ‘this’.

And, that’s what I wrote in my IDP.

I am still unable to believe that I actually took the first step here, in this direction, and shared my crazy-sounding dream with my Manager. This may cost me all that I have built so far. And what I have built, is a lot for a lot of people out there. It’s perhaps the most settled and most-sought after position in my career graph currently.

But then, what’s life if not for an adventure. And, if you really want it, you gotta jump without the rope.

So, here I am, taking my big giant leap of faith. And, striving for my dreams.

Wish me luck! O Dear God, please please please be with me.

-Hope

Posted in Adult Life, Ambitions, Growth, Personal, Philosophy, Self-growth, Uncategorized

What is it about youth? 

Look around and you see people ‘worshipping’ youth. The age group of 18-29. Approximately. The golden age of youth.

The ones who are younger, wait for the time when they will grow up and experience it. The ones who are older and over with it, try hard to keep it. Whether it’s by trying to dress up that way, or it’s by trying to look the way. To act, opine, eat, live…anything and everything is controlled, driven by youth and what it entails.

As I finally admit to myself that the glorious youth time of mine is over, I look back and wonder. I wonder what it was about youth that makes it so desirable!?

Yes, it meant being healthy. Not to worry about aching joints or bulging tummies because you ate pizza yesterday. The metabolism is good and your body is able to accept all that. But that can be achieved or maintained even later.  By choosing a healthy lifestyle. What else?

I think the answer is personal. May change from person to person. For me, this is what I miss apart from above, of course! –

It meant being more desirable. It meant being the center of positive attention without even trying. All the time. All places.

It meant having complete confidence in my decisions and choices.  The unabashed faith you have in your ideas, decisions and choices was a-ma-zing! I miss it.

Life brings regrets and failures.  They make you worry about failing more. More than the rush, the thought of success brings. Youth and young age is free of those experiences. And it brings a carefree arrogance that makes you believe you can fly.

And, fly I want to.

It doesn’t matter what tomorrow holds. It doesn’t really matter whether the plan will succeed or fail. What matters is I tried. What matters is the exhilaration the experience will bring.  And for that, I want to try.

Not worry.

Just open my wings one more time and take a leap of faith and jump!

<Bliss>

-Hope

Posted in Adult Life, Ambitions, Challenges, Growth, Personal, Relationships, Society, Uncategorized

Of choices

Dear Diary,

Life is back to normal again. After a long time of upheaval and uncertainties, it is where it was, and it seems, the sea is calm, yet again.

Normally, times of upheaval /difficulties usually signify the time of improvement, growth. So far, it usually ended with some significant change in my life – a milestone. This time, however, it hasn’t changed much. Maybe I hit the rock bottom and I am back to the surface, breathing, so that’s a big achievement! Not sure, though.

As I reflect on those times, I do try to gather what I learnt (coz there must be!). The first one and the only one so far, is it was all my choice. The times tested which way I go, and I made my choice. Whether it was about supporting my husband in his venture, or not-leaving my job for my ailing child (who is now fine), or not moving back to my in-laws house because of societal pressure, or about not-giving up when everything seemed to be going wrong at my job. I took a stand. I decided for myself. It didn’t seem so when it was all happening. But, now, I can see that that is how it all went.

As I always say – ‘ There is no right or wrong a choice. It is about what actions you follow it with, which decide whether the choice was wrong or right’.

So, when I did decide to move out of my in-laws house, it was a major decision. A decision which most would term as ‘wrong’, but by working extra-hard towards keeping the relations healthy, happy, I could heal them. I could make the decision right. Now, not only am I happy, they are able to find their happiness in this setup too. It wasn’t easy. Neither for me, nor for them. But, if the intentions are right, and if you value the relations, it does work out. Today, we’re considered a happy unit again (‘us’ and ‘them’ together).

When Anay fell sick, and had to be hospitalized, everyone questioned our decision of moving out. It made sense to keep the child home instead of sending him to the day care and opening him to so many infections. That was a time even my husband thought that it’s the right thing to do, to move back. But, I knew, I had made a choice. And, it was time to make the choice right. So, I decided that we won’t undo what we had done. I decided we will try to make it work by working it out with our offices. And, it seemingly did. It was tough. Both our careers were at stake. But, when you have a baby, you don’t have it to give away to your parents to take care. You take care of your child. And, if you cannot take care of him/her because of your career, then you need to figure out how to make it work. Not brush your hands off the child by handing over the responsibility. Yes, my child requires his grandparents and their love. He needs loads of them. I keep visiting. I let him have his way, a lot of times. But, I don’t want to use it as an excuse to get rid of my responsibility.

Because of this part-time story, my job went into a deep shit. Things went out of hand pretty suddenly. What came as a warning sounded more like a death bell. While moving to a different job was an obvious choice, it would have meant accepting defeat and letting go of all the hard work I had done in my past 4 years at the company. I was ready to move-on in terms of job. I wasn’t ready to leave on bad terms. I didn’t want to leave because I failed at the job I took. I wanted to prove I was worth it. I wanted to prove it was a phase that I went through.

‘And, it does not define me’.

It took a lot of courage, lot of self-introspection and letting go of personal limitations to get over it. It meant facing people head-on. Having arguments of personal level and yet keeping it totally professional. No tears, No emotions. They say, once relations go sour, it is almost impossible to mend them back. This time, I can say, I mended them. I would never be able to forget the scar, but I mended it enough so that I don’t have to run from my current situation. I can work. I can go to a happy place to work. And, if later, I want to switch because I would like to, professionally, then I would. But, for now, there’s no rush.

Well Well! So, that was my last adventure. And, as I see my calm sea again, I wonder and yawn. I wonder what the next adventure would be, and when it would be. Because Life is the only adventure which keeps my adrenaline high.

Hoping for a rocking life ahead! Coz I ain’t done yet! 😉

-Hope

Posted in Uncategorized

Dreams and Depression

Dear Diary,

I’m a city-girl. I’ve lived and loved the city for as long as I remember. Even when I visited my relatives (who lived in a town, instead of a city. Not really a village, so to speak), I enjoyed it only for a couple days, and that too for the yummy food and complete freedom to watch TV. I don’t remember being drawn to the farmlands or the … anything else that maybe coming with it. Village/farms always depicted mosquitoes, open poops and blatant stares from mensfolk to me.

I see that changing now. I feel growing distant from the city-life now. From the madness, all time rush. From the pollution and the diseases. From the running and the show-off. From the fake faces and the pretended relationships. I feel caged in this life..in the routine that I’ve created for myself. Tarun says we should accept it. It’s time to accept that this is the life we have created and we should work on it to improve it. We should stop wandering.

I’m not yet ready to settle, I guess.

I don’t want to accept this as my final. This as my life for eternity. If this is all, what’s the point of living the life anymore. Life is to be explored. Do something unique. I need something to look forward to.

2016 has been tough on me. There have been so many happenings which have shaken my philosophy of life that it is all about ambitions and enjoying yourself. It has shown me that life is about cherishing your loved-ones too. It’s a responsibility you need to carry. With every person you get attached to, or you attach to yourself, you need to take care of him/her. And that is a huge responsibility. Just to love is not enough. You must love enough to care and sacrifice too. In health and in illness. In the crests and the lows.

As I try to manage both work and family, I realize I’m constantly choosing work over family. Sometimes, it is a choice I want to make. Sometimes it’s a choice that people around me force on me. Whatever maybe the reason, this is the choice I’m living. And hence it is ‘my choice’. Tarun says I should not be so hard on myself. We’re doing everything in our capacity to give our best to Anay. But, unless we give him a sound health when he grows up, I don’t think anything less is acceptable. No matter how much quality time we spend with him, no matter how many nights we cry ourselves to sleep over his health, no matter how much we spend on taking care of his needs – if in the end, if he’s not healthy, it all goes to waste. And, unless I give him that, I won’t be able to forgive myself. And, I’ll hold myself guilty. No matter who says what.

And a life away from this city-rush is what I dream to give him. A home with a backyard garden. A clean air to breathe. A respectable humble family who loves him and for whom he means the world.

I see this going somewhere. I see my heart and mind seeing a solution to this. But, is it a solution Tarun wants? Perhaps not. Perhaps yes.

Reminds me of a dialogue from a Hindi movie – this has become my feeling these days –
“Main udna chahta hoon, daudna chahta hoon, girna bhi chahta hoon … bus rukna nahi chahta”

(I want to fly, I want to run, I even want to fall … I just don’t want to stop)

– Hope
Posted in Ambitions, Challenges, Uncategorized

The real picture of life in US

Dear Diary,

Remember I once spoke about how life in US has its own pros and cons. It’s not as perfect and rosy as we see it to be, sitting here!? Well, as my yearning to go there increases (Well, I’m staying at my in-laws place these days. What to say!?) I think it’s time to write down those reasons.

The reasons why people living in India wish to go there

1. Romance (+easy sex) is in the air, thanks to all the movies/serials that we see

2. World of job opportunities

3. Growth prospects

4. Cleanliness

5. Availability of resources

6. Medical facilities

7. You earn shitloads of money that you never earn here (India being my point of comparison)

8. Awesome places to visit

If I’m not mistaken, I have covered pretty much all the reasons here. I’m not including ‘peer pressure’ here which is, unfortunately, one of the major reason for people to migrate. I’m not including it because that’s not ‘your’ choice then. It’s your incapability to make a choice on your own.

Now, let me burst the happy bubble slowly and steadily here

1. Romance: As much easy-going and fun-to-be-with US people seem from the movies, it’s totally opposite. People don’t interact with strangers. They don’t even talk to their neighbors so unless you work together or are relatives, or met at university, chances are you’re as lonely as Bhaskar from the movie Partner. And, you don’t need to be a Bhaskar to reach that position.

When I went to US in 2009, the only people I met or spoke to were my colleagues. This has nothing to do with the fact that I spent most of my day working my ass off in office. This is also because nobody talks to you. If someone approaches you at a random bus-stop, while you wait, it would be a person trying to make you change your religion and accept the holy bible and Jesus.

I did approach couple strangers once in a while, when I was stuck in a situation, like looking for coin-change to call home. Stuck somewhere without a mobile and must call someone for help. So, stuff like that. But, I don’t think any of them became my buddies. Or, would have agreed to exchange numbers (either gender) if I had asked for. People are extremely private and cautious of whom they share it with.

There was a time when I was so lonely and thirsty for some conversation that I broke down in front of my parents on a skype chat. That was when my brother dug up his friends-circle and got me in touch with a friend who was pursuing his studies there. I ended up spending a day with a guy 4.5 yrs younger than me. Practically a brother. So, no romance there.

So, all in all, if you’re not signing up for a university which brings you to US, I don’t know how you’ll get to make friends or interact with people.

In India, things are way better. If you keep going to your local park every day, there are chances you’ll find some yoga friends, or walk-friends, or market-friends. You could even stand and talk to the grocery-man if nothing else. Forget everything. If you were bored, you could go to Connaught Place and do some window-shopping. There’s no concept of CP in San Fransisco.

No wonder there is such high percentage of depression and suicide cases there.

2. World of job opportunities: There are lot of Indians in Bay Area. So, I don’t see any dearth of opportunities there. I haven’t tried it for myself so I don’t really know the complete picture in that regard. But, the work culture is a different ballgame all together.
The work culture is quite different there than India. In India, because of the sheer number of people you’re competing with, chances are you’re growing up in the ladder with minimal efforts. If you were ambitious, you would see a major accelerated growth. Things get pretty competitive in US. In semiconductor industry, where I’m employed, most people are Ph.d. You may meet some M.Sc but meeting a B.Tech or B.Sc? Chances are close to none.

Since people are so highly qualified, and the number of jobs are quite limited, you work extra-hard to prove your worth. The expectations are way higher. The work environment is always about technical discussions. People never ever talk about their personal lives. They don’t share unless it’s a causal 1-2 liners about their kids or pets.

3. Growth prospects: If you’re an Indian who was brought and bred on competitions and ambitions, you would have a hard time adjusting to the settled life in US. The increment is almost same, no matter how hard you perform. The starting salary, the increments, it pretty much is set. There is very little difference. So, if you want to grow, you really have to think and work out-of-the-box. Something like a part-time-job to increase your salary from what it is. Or, startups etc.

4. Cleanliness: This is one place where I’ll go hands-down and bow to the place. There’s no comparison and never can be.

5. Availability of resources: Yes, it’s true that you’ve most things there. But, I don’t see a dearth of the same things in India now. Indian market is catching up quite fast. There are very few things which are available there and not available here. Unless you start talking of 5% fat milk, or low protein 1% fat milk. You got the drift, right!?

6. Medical facilities: The doctors, the facilities are world-class. It’s no question that if you’re struggling with a disease and there is a cure known to mankind, then you’ll get it in US. There’s no question about that. The medical team gives their 100%, more than 100% to make you live. But, if I were to look at it from the other angle, I’m not so sure. If I had a severe disease, or my kins had it, I would definitely want to be in US. But, if I didn’t, the medical insurance is a pain.

If you’re lucky to be fit and fine, it’s nothing but a significant chunk of money getting cut from your salary. You bear with it thinking it’ll help in my times of need. But, if you were to actually fall sick, they take care of your costs at that time, but they pump up your premium going forward. So, what you paid them doesn’t matter any more. Your medical history will have the disease in it, and your premium goes up. So, you end up paying whatever they paid you during your time of crisis, after the crisis passed.

I heard of a family where the wife required Physiotherapy regularly and the husband was extremely bitter about the medical insurances and the ways of US.

Another friend had someone part of a minor car accident. You would think my car insurance would protect me. On the contrary, the accident goes into your credit history. Your premium goes extremely high. You realized the insurance company didn’t pay as much for the damages than what you’re paying now as part of premiums.

It’s ultimately a vicious circle which ends up beefing up the capitalist society and sucking from the common man.

In India, things are way more accessible.

7. Money: This is the biggest myth most people have. No matter what salary they’re offering you, you would end up spending 70-80% of it on your living costs. From what you save, even if you were living meager, you’ll realize, over long term, it is equal to what you would have made in India. Here you earn less, you save some. There you earn more, save in dollars, but the conversion only happens once – when you return. And, it may look like a lot at that time, it ends up being not much. And the people living out of India, in that whole time, would have made much better from their savings while you would be starting all over.

8. Awesome places to visit: This is true but if you have the money, you could go visit any place on the earth. You don’t need to be living in US for that. And, from my point of view, worthy places to visit are in Europe than in US. So, if you must live abroad, live in Europe 😉

What do you think?

-Hope

Posted in Uncategorized

The Action Plan

Dear Diary,

Some dreams never leave you. They keep bugging you, sometimes softly, sometimes strongly. Similar is my dream for living abroad. Maybe it’s my weakness towards the grass on the other side of the fence. More than my own farm, I end up envying over the green pastures on the other side. Well, never mind. This too shall pass!

So, as I discussed in my last post, I was strongly thinking of quitting my job so that I could take care of my son. All my life, I’ve always believed that working women take equally good care of their children as home-makers. My Mom was working and took extremely good care of me and my brother. So, I could too. Now, the myth was broken. So, here were the constraints:

1. I have no way I would give anything less than the best to my child. If I believe I can give the best care to my child even while working then I should.
2. If I’m not giving my best, then what is it I’m lacking?
3. Will my quitting job fulfill the purpose?
4. Can’t I do that WITH my work?

So, through these questions, I found my action plan and some further questions which I seek answer to:
The Action Plan:  I take a 1-month leave from work, spending time at home, while my son’s summer vacations are on. Once this finishes and his school begins, I and my husband juggle between work and home. He picks him up at 12.00 from school/bus, stays with him for 2-3 hrs and feeds him lunch. I stay at work from 8 AM – 2 PM and head home. As I reach, husband heads back to work. I work from home for the rest few hours I’m supposed to log-in. In the meanwhile, Anay takes his afternoon nap. As evening arrives, I’m done with my office and free and available for my son. No daycare!
The Questions
1. I try to give my best to my son. I try to find out what extra I’m doing for him.
2. Do I end up procrastinating, as I expect I would, if I became a full-time-home-mom?
3. Am I able to keep my sanity staying 24-hr at home?
4. Find out how life would be if I were completely at home? Find out if I can manage to work AND take care of my child.
5. If I do not want to leave my work, how do I manage to provide all that with my work?
6. Any external factors which further come into play?

How’s it going so far?
It’s been close to 10 days since I started doing this. I’ve gotten quite a few answers and this is how it’s going.
My son is thoroughly enjoying his time at home. He buggers me with his constant ‘Bore ho raha hoon (I’m getting bored!)’ unless I agree to his demand for TV or start to play something with him. He doesn’t have a care that I’m on a Leave-without-pay and that means less money. Nothing’s complicated in the 5-yr old’ world. However, that does seem to irk the adults. So, my husband and my parents have been softly and consistently telling me that while it’s okay to take some leave, 1 month is just too long. I’ll lose touch with my work! (If that’s even possible) I’ll  get no money at all this month. etc. etc.
Well, that didn’t bug me too much but then I had to go to office for a day, and I realized that taking a month off did have its repercussions. Before I decided to quit/not-quit, the people above had started wondering the same. And, making adjustments!! That’s something I definitely didn’t want. I want to try my best at my work. I’ve worked hard to build my career and I do not let it go just like that. If I decide to quit, it’ll be when I decide I can’t do it. Not before that! And hence, I had to make arrangements so that I continue to work for few hours scattered through the week, while still being on vacation. My manager was kind and adjusting enough to allow me to apply for a working-day accordingly.
So, you make some plans, life makes its own plans. Each action has its own reactions and you gotta be prepared for them. I was able to do damage control, thankfully but things could have slipped out of my hand very soon and easily.
I’m trying to work-from-home but working with a 5 yr old at home is not easy. Hence, I realize I’ll have to make some arrangements if I want to not send him to daycare and yet WFH. And, I do end up frustrated and itchy by being 24-hrs at home.
But, one thing I did learn, my son needs a lot of my time. No amount of time is sufficient for your child. You can give as much and it’ll still be less. Tarun says you can’t give quality time the whole day. If you give 1 hr of quality time in the day, that’s sufficient too. And, I somehow realize it’s true. I can’t keep my patience and mental strength to keep him engaged in variety of stuff, all day long. Somewhere, I think it’s not that necessary. If you just ensure that you teach him one new thing each day, even if for an hour, that’s sufficient. What’s crucial is to keep the child at priority. What’s crucial is to not forget him in the milieu of things that happen in our regular working lives.

It’s okay if he’s watching too much TV. It’s a phase and shall pass. It’s okay if he’s fooling around and wasting his time. Trust God that it’ll teach him something too.

Ultimately, he’s the child of the Universe. What he gets, what he doesn’t, is all his destiny. I can only try to do my best. Try to impart him the common sense and the sense of the world, as long as it lasts. Enjoy the time with him as long as you have it. Share some laughs, some litchis, relish the twinkles in his eye, and the innocent laughter on getting the unexpected chocolate, the squeals in the pool, the detailed arguments with people for getting his way.

Thank You God for being kind enough.

Love,
Hope
Posted in Adult Life, Ambitions, Challenges, Growth, Personal, Uncategorized

Is it time to hang up my boots?

Dear Diary,

Every evening, when I return from office, I think if I should just accept that I can’t handle it all anymore and I need to accept my priorities. My son is, must be, has to be, my top priority. And, if it requires me to quit my job to give him the best, I should do that. I shouldn’t hesitate. And yet, every morning when I wake up, I look forward to my day. I look forward to going to my work place. I yearn to go to my office. I miss not going there. I relish the work I do. I revere in the glory of importance that I get there. A feeling of achievement. A satisfaction of doing something worthwhile.

I don’t know what to do.

I recently went through a traumatic experience in my life, as a Mother. My son got infected with a rare and dangerous virus. A viral infection, in common language. But, what he went through, and what we went through in the process, is far from a regular viral infection.

I had taken a leave to take care of him because he seemed down with fever and bad stomach. I expected regular dosage to help him (that we had been giving him in previous times). And suddenly, he started shivering. A minute ago, he was talking to me, had just returned from restroom, after relieving himself, and the next minute he says “I’m feeling cold. Please put blanket on me.” I check his fever. It seems normal. Nothing like spiking. I had given him the medicine just a little while ago. I call out to my husband who had gone out to bring ORS solution for him. He rushes in. And, suddenly, the vomitting and water-stools begin. What was a 1-2 times an hour thing turned into 10-12 times in an hour. I tell Tarun to rush him to emergency. Tarun feels he’s just getting dehydrated and we should keep feeding him ORS solution. He expects he’ll get fine. But, he doesn’t. Within 20 mins, we’re rushing to the Emergency. The situation worsens a lot more. One hospital refers us to another, bigger hospital with a PICU. The bigger hospital doctor tells me he needs to be put on Ventilator. His situation is critical. The infection may have reached his brain because of which his brain is not responding.

That was unexplicable. Totally non-understandable. Yes, my son was in a bad situation and he needed help. But, ventilator? Doctor explains that it’s required and urgently required before the situation worsens and it becomes difficult to help the child.

The next 4 days were days of utter tension, anxiety, guilt, gathering contacts to get reference to the doctors, and what not.

Now, my son is back home. I’ve visited 2 more doctors for second and third opinion to understand exactly if a ventilator was required. If the treatment given to him was correct. What can I do to avoid this episode again? Is it because I didn’t take care of my child well?

For everything, the answer is whatever was done was done correct. We took him at the right time otherwise things could have gone ugly. And, there are some rare viruses which do infect and they can be fatal. And, that we should be extremely grateful to God that it left no traces behind on his brain. Neither the virus nor the medicines.

There are days when I can’t avoid reliving the experience. The scenes of me walking in that empty corridor chanting ‘Hanuman Chalisa’, with barely open eyes, almost ready to fall, they keep coming back to me. There are moments when I’m at work and it all comes back to me, and I feel like running back to my son. To touch him and feel that he’s fine.

Now, as per the world, I should just forget it as a bad dream. There’s nothing that I can do about it. But, I need to.

I have decided not to send my child to the daycare anymore. And, for doing that, I have three options. –

  1. Start living with my in-laws, or move to the same society as they are so that they can pick him up and keep him till I return.
  2. Pick Anay from school at 12.00 and go back to home with him. Work morning hours in office and rest of hours from home.
  3. Quit job completely and take care of him.

After facing so much troubles, going to so much length in moving out from my in-laws house, that is not an option I want to explore. Rather than being the easiest option to provide home for Anay and continue with my job, it is not an option I can mentally survive.

Being in manager role, I need to be around in office to do justice to my role. No matter how responsible a team you create, a physical presence makes things smooth. I know this for a fact. Picking Anay at 12.00 means hardly being available in office. I’m not even sure if that’s an option my Manager or my company would allow me.

Quit my job: This is the dangerous option I’m contemplating too much. Tarun says I should try this. Being brought up by a working Mom, I know this option would never be liked by my parents. And also, myself, I would feel incomplete somehow.

Maybe it’s just fear of the unknown. Maybe if I tried quitting and tried my hands at other things, I would succeed there too. I often used to wonder at these big actresses like Karishma Kapoor, Kajol, who quit their careers at their prime. They were at the peak when they left it all. I wondered why they would do that. I stand at the same cross-roads now. And I need to see if I’m worth anything or worth nothing.

Dear God, please show me the way. Help me.

-Hope