June 20, 2016

#MommyTalks - I'm Enough. Aren't I?



As I quietly walk out of the door leaving her with strangers, I wonder if I'm doing the right thing. Three days since I joined back at work and M started going to crèche. Three days and in these 72 hours, I must have weighed the pros and cons of being a working mother at least zillion times. No, gazillion times! Not only that, I've also asked myself if I'll be able to handle both. Am I enough for the challenge that lies ahead? Am I really enough?

If the past 3 days are any indication of the times that lay ahead then it is not going to be easy in any way. I'm already feeling the pressure. Every part of by body is aching, I'm exhausted and I feel like I'm going to collapse at any moment. But that's just the physical aspect of things.

Emotionally too it's taxing and extremely painful to leave a part of you, a part you love the most, a part you want to keep safe from everything bad in this world, in the care of strangers. Professionals, yes, but still strangers. Hence, as I look towards life as a working mother, I wonder again and again if I'll be able to do it. If I'm enough.

And as if self-doubt wasn't the only thing tugging at my heart, people around don't make it easier either. Not family, mind you. It's the others. Every step you take as a mother is scrutinised minutely. If you put your left feet forward, they'll judge you for not using your right. If you feed your baby banana, they'll judge you for not feeding her Kiwi. If you give her biscuits, they'll judge you for not using everything organic. You are doomed no matter what you do. So, imagine the stares and innuendos when you put your seven-month-old in the crèche. So, it brings me to that place all over again. Will I be able to handle both my daughter and work? Will what I am, be enough?

I don't have a clear answer, though, not by far. I just hear echoes in response to my doubts. Echoes of my past. Echoes of things I had done and faced. Echoes in a voice not so unfamiliar saying yes I'm enough.


Emotionally too it's taxing and extremely painful to leave a part of you, a part you love the most, a part you want to keep safe from everything bad in this world, in the care of strangers.

One of the things about being a mother is that you become this ticking time bomb emotionally, ready to explode at every instant. And that makes things more difficult occasionally.

I always wanted to continue working even after having a child. I still do. Before the very first day I left her at the crèche, I hardly had any doubts about it. I always knew I would be able to do it. In fact, I'm still sure that this is what I need to do, somewhere deep down. But now, every time I turn away from her, I ask myself if I'm really sure about this. That walk from the crèche to my office is one of the toughest and I do it at least two times a day. And then I wonder if I've bitten off more than I can chew. If I'm capable of being a working mother and not failing in it. If I'm enough. If my resolve, thinking, and views are enough to sail me through.


What if I fail miserably at both?

It's a never-ending conflict, confusion. Her happiness. My happiness. Her future. My future. Our future. And also not so much of a conflict, at the same time. But every time I walk out of the crèche, self-doubt encompasses me.

Deep down I know it'll be alright. So many women juggle work and their personal lives. I'll be able to do it too. I fought fire once, the fire which wanted to engulf me. I was brave then I can be brave now. But that snarky guilt raises it's head and makes me feel horrible inside. Well, nobody said motherhood would be easy, right?

I want to scream at the top of my voice saying I shouldn't worry, that I'm enough. But a tiny squeaky voice stops me. It overpowers that familiar voice of reassurance. Hence, I just want to drown out that pesky sound of self-doubt one way or the other.

I want to keep saying that I'm enough and I'll be able to handle it, till I start believing in it completely.

Maybe, one day soon enough!


***

Write Tribe
Linking to #FridayReflections hosted by Write Tribe and Sanch of Living My Imperfect Life

#MondayMusings
Linking to #MondayMusings by Everyday Gyaan


June 16, 2016

Parents, Gifts & Wedding Anniversaries


© www.nabanitadhar.in

Let me tell you a story about two little girls who decided to gift something to their parents on their anniversary one year. They were both just tiny tots, girls in pigtails; one in the 2nd standard while the other had just started going to school. And that year, they were really excited about buying their parents a gift.

On the day of the anniversary, therefore, they bought the present from their neighborhood store and went home, happy and satisfied with their purchase. At night, just before dinner, they gave it to their parents, eager to see their reaction.

But what was the gift?

A set of color pencils.

Yes, well, they were kids after all. And for them, nothing seemed a better gift than a set of color pencils. It was something they would have bought for themselves, given a choice. So once they saved enough money, they actually went ahead and bought that. Yes, even if as a gift for their parents' anniversary.

Their parents happy at this gesture and really amused at the gift, hugged the little ones. And looking at those tiny expectant eyes, asked the girls to use the colors pencils instead, for that would make them even happier.

Their little hearts jumped with joy and after dinner, they went straight to their room to start drawing with those news pencils. The small family of four thus colored with love by those pencils.

Well, in the interest of full disclosure, let me tell you that those girls were none other than my little sister and myself. Yes, well, we were silly that way. Still are.

But yes, now we do give better presents to our parents, things they can actually use or enjoy. We no longer buy things we want in the guise of gifts.

But what is the best wedding anniversary gift for parents? Do you get confused too while deciding what to get them?





I actually find it very tough. Books, clothes, jewelry, flowers, cakes or chocolates? I can't ever decide easily.

My mother loves chocolates, so that's something we always make sure we send. Sometimes it's chocolate cake and flowers. At other times, when we happen to be in the same city, dinner at a good restaurant always trumps everything else. What can be a better gift than a day away from the kitchen for moms, right? Moreover, my mom loves eating out and my dad is pleased just seeing her happy. A win-win situation always.



When it comes to jewelry or something more expensive, we have to tread carefully because parents tend to hyperventilate at the thought of their children spending a lot of money on them. But still, even with the certainty of scolding and rebukes, sometimes it's good to indulge them no matter how much they resist.

The problem with me is there's nothing that I can give or show my parents which they don't have or haven't seen themselves already. Yes, this makes it really tough.

But again, with parents, even the smallest gesture works wonders, doesn't it? So, in a way that makes it easier too. Even a wish is a big gift for them. And the satisfaction of seeing them happy, unparalleled. Yes, there's just something special about seeing that smile reach their eyes.

Parents are always the givers in the equation, whether it's love or anything else we need. So, once in a while, it's good to be able to give them something. The best part being, nothing we give them is ever inconsequential in their eyes.

Sometimes when we send flowers, my parents are even reluctant to throw them out once they wither. I guess it's all about sentiments at the end of the day, all about sentiments. All that matters is that we give them something and acknowledge their special day.

So, tell me, what are you getting your parents on their anniversary this year? Or, what is that one anniversary that stands out for you?


***

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June 13, 2016

My Maths Teacher, Mrs Kapoor



There are so many people we meet in the course of our lives. So many. Some in passing and without any legible footprint. Inconsequential really. Then some for few fleeting moments but with lasting impact. Some who remain with us forever but not really. And then those who stay and make us who we are. Paths intersecting, some diverging while some converging but all creating lives and shaping personalities, at the end of the day. 

Last week, I lost one such person, someone whom I met while in school, one of those who have influenced the few positives in me. My middle school Maths teacher, Mrs Kapoor.

She was something. Really. The Iron Lady of our school, our Master Shifu of Maths. We loved her classes though she was strict as strict could be. I remember how she would first check if we had our geometry boxes with us. Trouble was what you had in store if you forgot one. Every student knew you never go to a Mrs-Kapoor-Maths class without one. And the Maths books, of course. 

Algebra, Arithmetic, Geometry, she made us fall in love with numbers and angles. She was that good kind of strict teacher who made you want to learn. I can't believe that she's no more.

I remember how she would check our homework, she at her desk looking into our copies while we stood next to her. And some days she would flash you her trademark smile too. If I close my eyes, even now I can see her in that mustard colour saree of hers, a red, no maroon sweater vest on top and her specks. And I still remember her voice, firm yet sweet.

She lived in a beautiful cottage next to our school. Such was her aura that every student instinctively switched to their best behaviour while crossing those few yards that marked her home.


She was more than a teacher though. She was much much more than a Maths teacher.

I remember distinctly when one day she taught me the importance of encouragement and appreciation in her own unassuming way. I didn't quite know then that I was gaining a valuable lesson in life. But over the years every time I think of encouraging someone, I go back to that day.

We lived in Shillong where from time to time there would be some strikes and bandhs. On one such day, my parents decided to not send us to school anticipating trouble, very less attendance in school and hence no classes. But as the day proceeded we got to know that classes were indeed on in spite of limited attendance. At that time, I hated missing school so much that my dad agreed to take me even though it was already late. I think I reached school after the second period. The first class I attended that day was Mrs Kapoor's and she applauded my zest, my drive to attend school and all this in front of the whole class. I still find myself smile at that memory. She was one great lady and an extraordinary teacher.

I feel ashamed that I didn't think of her often. I feel like an ungrateful student. So many years and I don't think I thought of her enough. And when I did, I didn't make an effort to know where or how she was. So many years and not once. But today when I learnt of her passing, it was as if not a day had passed since that final results of 6th standard. Little did I know then that would be the last time we would spend talking other than the customary greetings.

That was the last day of middle school after which I would move to the high school section where we would have a different Maths teacher. It was an important curve of my school life too because now both sections would be merged. More students, more competition. Constructive of course. That day sensing my thoughts, I guess, she told me that I had scored the highest percentage not only in my class but in both the sections combined. She told me that I should continue working hard and be the best version of myself. I can't believe that was the last time we really spoke and that now she is no more.

I was lucky to have had some wonderful teachers during my school life. Teachers who accentuated the respect of this noble profession. Mrs Kapoor was one of those. You don't find teachers like her these days.

Today, I mourn my Maths teacher. Today, I wish I could tell her thank you, at least one more time. At least one more time.


***


June 8, 2016

Thyrocare - Diagnostics At Your Doorstep



www.thyrocare.com/

One of the scariest things about growing up is your parents growing old. As uncomfortable a truth as this may be, it happens to all. From being cared for to becoming a caregiver, this transition is one of the toughest in life, emotionally that is.

Do you remember the moment when you suddenly realised old age had crept up on your parents?

I do. 

It was two years ago when I watched them get admitted to a hospital. They were both sick, needed invasive procedures and operations. In all probability, that was one of the toughest phases of my life.

Around that time, I realised another undeniable fact, that they have to be under treatment, probably taking medicines every day with doses varying based on periodic test results. Trips to diagnostic centers and laboratories were to become more regular now, for ongoing treatments and also to prevent any surprises that may come along the way.

As children, especially as grownup children, you want to do everything possible to help your parents. I do too. But I live in a different city from them. And that's why everytime they need to go get tests done, I feel helpless.

Driving up to the diagnostic center for tests and then for results, not something I like to see them doing alone. On top of that, there's no surety if the laboratory is any good or doing the tests right.

But what can you do?

I was looking for the answer to this very question when I heard about Thyrocare. And I cannot even begin to tell you how relieved I was.

Thyrocare is India's first totally automated laboratory with its presence in over 2000 cities and towns across the country and outside. In fact, it is the world's largest Thyroid and Preventive health care laboratory and offering healthcare packages called Aarogyam profiles.

All you need to do is select the package or test prescribed for you, book it through their website by providing details and the samples would be collected from your home. And their website is the not the only way to book. You could call, email or WhatsApp to Thyrocare. You could also download their app. Once the booking is done, their collection department collects the sample after coordinating the timing with you. So convenient, isn't it, especially for the elderly?

And not only that, they have a system in place which ensures a turnaround time of 4 to 8 hours of processing the samples, 24X7. The results are then emailed to you within 48 hours and if you need a hard copy, that is provided too with an additional payment of just Rs. 30/-.

I think for people like me who stay away from their aging parents this comes as a lifesaver. I can book the tests online and my parents don't even have to go out of the house if they don't want to.

Infact, this can also be helpful for pregnant women too. I remember doing several tests during my pregnancy last year to monitor my thyroid and enzyme levels. Had I known about Thyrocare then, they would have been my first choice.


Thyrocare - Diagnostics at your doorstep. How convenient, isn't it?

But it's not only the convenience which works in favour of Thyrocare. One of the things about diagnostic centers in the country today is that they look upon patients only as the means to earn money. The prices are ridiculous and services over priced. Thyrocare, on the other hand, provides quality service with the assurity of speed and accuracy at affordable prices.

They also have a comprehensive test menu with over 200 tests to choose from, designed with an eye towards sick and preventive care across age groups. And in all this, keeping it cost effective and within reach of customers is a prime aspect too. Another feather in its cap, if you ask me.

They offer packages called Aarogyam packages where you can choose from. To start with, there is a Mini Aarogyam package which costs only Rs. 600 and has 33 different tests in it. I haven't found any diagnostic center which provides this kind of a package. Have you? These Aarogyam packages range from Rs.600 to Rs. 2200/- and bundle a variety of tests.

If that doesn't get your attention then here is a set of trivia for you. Thyrocare is one of the first Indian diagnostic laboratories to obtain internationally renowned quality accreditations like ISO 9001-2000 rating as early as 2001. They now hold ISO 9001-2008, NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) in 2005 and CAP (College of American Pathologists) certification in 2007.

I'm so influenced by what I have found out about Thyrocare that I'm planning to get all tests for my family done through them, sick or preventive, whenever feasible, that is.

You can find out more about them here


www.thyrocare.com



***


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June 6, 2016

#ViewFromMyWindow - Are You Doing Well In Life?




Am I doing well in life?

Does this question not bother you? Don't you ever wonder? I do from time to time.

I really do.

Though more often than not, I'm happy being me, happy and satisfied really, but there are times I'm perturbed greatly by this question. Am I being the best of what I can be?

One of my earliest memories is of being told never to compare. I remember being told to focus on improving myself instead of measuring success on a scale relative to others. This had so much of an affect on me that all through my life, I have more or less never looked at others to evaluate myself.

Having said that, there have certainly been times when I failed to adhere to this philosophy. There have been times when someone else's success touched a chord in a whole different way. A bad, self-pity kind of way.


Who decides if we are doing well in life?

Am I not good enough? Why can't I get things easily like others do? Why, oh why not me?

I have heard myself ask these questions sometimes.

The interesting thing here is, I started losing the plot of being happy and content with myself as I grew older. But on the whole, I think I have managed well. 

Success is living your life your way and being happy doing so.

Whether my crooked front teeth or my perineal aversion to doing all things young people generally do, I have been comfortable not following the herd. Peer pressure was never a bother to me. Saying what I believe, not pretending to be holier than thou or just being myself, have been some of the things I have always liked about the reflection I saw in the mirror. Being happy in what I have, what I do and not be in a rush to prove something, has been my own way of living life so far.


Positive affirmations are always good for the soul.

But of late, I have been plagued by a doubt. Am I wasting away my life by being ordinary?

More often than not the answer is reassuring. Being ordinary or mediocrity is good. And who measures these and against what scales?

I'm happy and blessed in so many ways and that's what matters most. Isn't it? That is my success.

Do I wish for more? Do I have plans?

Yes, I do. 

I have some plans and some dreams. Some clear, some vague. Some fixed, some changing. I do, like everyone out there. Hard work, grit, consistency and some luck would decide if they ever come true. Meanwhile, though, I need to remember all the good things in my life and not delve on what might have been. Or, not get affected by what someone else may or may not be doing.

I need to live my life, my way. That's what I'm here for, isn't it?

So, yes, I'm doing well in life and I need to keep telling myself that, at the same time also encourage myself to do better. The scale always having various versions of me.


I'm loved, I'm happy and I'm doing well in life.

Your turn now. Are you doing well in life?


***


June 4, 2016

A Little Extra Can Never Hurt #IncomeKaTopUp


www.nabanitadhar.in


Most joys in life are free, while for some, you just need some extra money. 

Deny the latter part if you wish but you and I both know how true that is.

The love of your family, your most important possession, comes without any price tag attached. It's as true as the sunlight, unbidden and free. It's a return guaranteed even without investment.

But sometimes the smile on your face comes at a price. Yes, from the temporal joys in life. A short holiday, new furniture, or attending a concert, heart's desires which take different shapes and forms. And they should.

But with the cost of living going higher every year, these wishes just keep getting pushed to the back burner. The important and unavoidable necessities of life take precedence over them, as they should.

The rent, grocery, school fees, EMIs, savings, doctor's fees, these are the things with unchallenged rights on your salary. First these and the rest later. 

But you must also admit that it leaves very little wriggle room for your heart's desires. They get shoved to the maybe-later list of things, more often than not. Only the brave, the risk takers, don't remain shackled by the set ways of things.

Savings for a rainy day over that slightly costly guilty pleasure here and now. That's how life works for most of us. And that's also where a little top up on the monthly income can go a long way in fulfilling wishes without that additional crease on the forehead.


What would you do if you have that leeway, a slight income top up?

Around two years back, I was in Germany with my husband. He was on an assignment there and I on loss-of-pay. While there, we made it a point to see as much of Europe as we could. And we did do that too, as much as possible. But there's one place which we had to miss. Italy.

Ever since I was a child, Italy has been one of those dream destinations for me. But two years back, in spite of being so close, we had to give up on a trip there.

Truth is, it was turning out to be too expensive and just didn't seem feasible with me being on loss-of-pay. Hence, we decided to not go then. There would always be a next time, a better time. Right?

So maybe with a top up, or several top ups, I'd be able to save enough for a trip to Italy. And if not that, for a short trip to one of the gems right here in India.

A quick getaway to a beautiful place, a good resort, and awesome food. These are some of the things that make me happy. And as you probably know, they don't always come cheap. In fact, more often than not the decision tends to be in favour of postponing trips for times with sufficient savings cushion. 

So, maybe a top up could reduce the procrastination when it comes to planning such trips. Maybe it could help take those leisurely strolls by picturesque beaches and who knows, even engage in some fun activities.

A wise investment in something like the Exide Life Income Advantage Plan, providing both regular guaranteed income and life cover, does just that. It helps in doing things you like without any overhead, like for the girls in this video.




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May 31, 2016

#MommyTalks - How Do I Leave Her In The Creche?


www,nabanitadhar.in

I thought choosing whether or not to become a mother would be the most important decision I ever make. Why not? It is life altering after all. But as it turns out, that was just the first of many. 

Nobody told me parenting is full of difficult choices. Nobody. Every decision, every choice being the cause of a prospective heart attack. I knew it wouldn't be easy but, my God, is it hard!

In about two weeks time, I go back to work which translates to the need of putting M in a crèche.

You know, I always knew it would come to this. I was never going to leave my job and hence our child would invariably have to be put in a crèche. I also knew that I didn't want to put the responsibility of raising her on my parents. I knew I wasn't for disrupting my parents' lives for helping me raise my daughter or sending M away to them. No, sir. I think they have done their round of parenting and it's time they rest, not do the whole thing all over again. I also cannot bear staying away from this little naughty munchkin. So, we both knew well, crèche and play school were what we had to rely on.

But planning something and doing something are completely different things altogether.

So, as the day to leave her in the crèche draws close, I have this lump in my throat. It's almost as if I'm being strangled, struggling for air. Tears at the drop of a hat almost as if I'm eight months pregnant all over again. And I'm full of questions too. A ticking time bomb, really. In spite of all the planning and knowing what I want, I'm confused.

How will I leave her alone? Will they care for her as much as I do? She cries when she wakes up and doesn't find me. Will they attend to her immediately like I do? Sometimes she just doesn't stop crying. Will they have the patience for that? Am I selfish for leaving this tiny little person, who's so dependent on me, alone?

The first time after her birth when I had to leave her overnight in the NICU, I was heart broken. I couldn't stop crying the whole time. I wanted to hold her, kiss her and hug her. I spent the night outside the NICU door, kept peeping in whenever possible. That was the first time I felt what it is to be a mother. That was the first time I probably became one. And the moment when I got her back, was among the happiest I have ever been. And now, I have to leave her alone every day. How am I ever going to get any work done with my heart and mind with her? I must be a terrible person for leaving her alone.

Being a mother is having to let a part of you live and grow outside of you. I read something along these lines somewhere. God! Now I know it's true. So very true.

I want to do what is best for her. I also know I need to work, for myself and for giving her a better life. If I don't work, I'll not be happy with myself and then I won't be a happy person to be around. But when I go to work, I'll be leaving her alone with a bunch of people I don't even know, with people who see me as a helpless mother they can siphon money from. I have got myself into quite a pickle, haven't I? What do I do?

She's the most valuable person in my life. She's my little daughter. Special and the only one. But for the people in the crèche, those business minded folks, she's just another avenue for earning money. Will they really take care of her?

I do know so many mothers who do it. And I'm hoping to get the hang of it too but it's scary. Sometimes I feel guilty, almost as if I'm deliberately abandoning her. I know that's rubbish but this heart fails to see reason sometimes.

There's a war room in my mind right now. I'm terrified and apprehensive about what's going to happen. All these scary thoughts come and go at will. I'm a mess. And I have a feeling this won't be the last time I feel this way.

Give me some advice folks. Tell me something, anything, that this mother needs to hear at this point. Tell me.


***


May 23, 2016

Every College Has A Pancham #CanteenChronicles


www.nabanitadhar.in

Every college has it. Every college needs it. None is ever complete without it. A place which is more than what it is. A place without which a college is never really a college. Yes, not an exaggeration this. A place where most stories in the campus often begin, are discussed and sometimes even end. 

Which or what is this place?

The canteen.

Yes, the canteen but not quite. The canteen but not the proper or designated college canteen.

What?

The hangout which is every bit what it is, a hangout and has nothing to do with food really, even though that's what it is primarily open for. The hangout where the quality of food and hygiene might actually qualify it for the opposite of a michelin star. But still a place more frequented than one with three.

A canteen, an eatery, a dhabha, call it what you wish, it is known by several names. A place right at the entrance of a college or near about. 



A place more about relationships, friendships, bonds than food.

We had one too. It was called Pancham. Yes, it looked every bit the kind of place you should avoid unless you really wanted the stomach bug. But that did nothing to deter the scores of students, year after year, crossing its threshold.


www.nabanitadhar.in


An open area with a makeshift roof, wooden tables and benches, not the most hygienic of kitchens but one which served food most students would swear by. A hotbed of everything that happened on the campus.

It was THE PLACE to be, well, at least for the boys. Whether it was the tea, those hot samosas or chats, they swore by it. Ours being mostly a college full of conservative professors, the girls weren't really found there but that didn't deter us from sourcing our samosas from there. But it was never about the food really.

It was the place to be after bunking a class. It was the place to be in between classes. It was the place to be after class. It was the place to be at all times.

It was the place where serious discussions happened over a half plate (samosa and chaat) and a special chai.

It was the place to be before campus selections and after. Like I said before, it was the PLACE to be.

If you liked a girl, it was the place you would wait for her. Yes, even if just for a glimpse. If you liked a boy, nine out of ten times you would spot him there.

It was the place where seniors and juniors got together. It was the place where legs were pulled and dates were fixed on behalf of the other. It was the place where serious discussions happened over a half plate (samosa and chaat) and a special chai.

At that time, I used to think it was only something that was integral to our college. But boy, was I wrong?

Around a month back while on one of my journeys, I happened to pass a stretch full of Engineering and Medical Colleges and that's when I realised it.

I realised no matter how old or new, good or bad, well built or in shambles a college is, it always has that dhabha kind of canteen. It is almost always near the vicinity of the main gate and is the perfect vantage point for everything in that college. No college was, is or can ever be complete without one.

Every college has a Pancham, so tell me about yours.

***