Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The quiet child..

Filed under "Life learns from work and work learns from life"

Recently when trying to explain to one of the execs on how we are not doing so well on recognizing folks who keep the playing field green (no escalations, no defects etc), I explained that it is like when you have many kids and some of them are naturally more naughty than the others. If two of them are howling their heads off and another one is quietly playing, my energies are all engaged in trying to quieten the howlers and I would probably not pay any attention at all to the quiet child (forget about thinking of rewarding in that moment!).

But then we need to. Eventually the quiet child will see that there is no reward for having been "good" and this can only lead to disastrous results.

So not to blame the management or anything, this is natural human impulse. But a good leader moves beyond and consciously does things differently.

Then I thought, do I reward my own kids in accordance with that? My older one tends to be naturally obedient and quiet while the younger one is quite a handful. But I am learning to consciously reward the older one (and visibly in front of his younger brother) for his good behavior in the same situation so that both ends are met!

Win-win, eh?

If I am ever able to master it, sure! I am still learning here though.. ;)

Four years..

Today its been four years since we lost my mother-in-law. Cannot believe it. at every critical juncture in our lives, we feel the loss. If she were around she would be so happy and what not. But, such is life. We miss her and hope we make her proud wherever she is!

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Thanks to Hindi being a totally new language - Rohan's performance in school has us a bit worried. So we bought this board game when we saw it at Shoppers Stop - I must say it is an absolute stunner and regardless of what he learns from it, has a fan in me!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Seeing the world - 2015

So it was time for the annual vacation of 2015 - this time we zeroed in on Europe because Mom had to attend her graduation at London anyway. After a long thought process about what cities to cover, we decided to keep it simple and just do two cities - Paris and London - since with two young kids and three senior citizens, anything beyond that would be far fetched and very strenuous.

It was a 9 day trip and it was a fabulous one although very tiring - especially for my Dad I presume, since my younger one refused any other mode of getting around except for my Dad carrying him. Phew! I have no idea how he managed.

Day 1 - Disneyland. It was freezing! We got a place very close to the metro so it wasn't so much of a commute but was the day freezing or what, probably one of the coldest in October. It ruined the whole experience, but the kids were excited to meet Mickey (although the older one did get a tad bit too old for it - he said it is not Mickey, it is some guy dressed as Mickey :( ) and of course buy some nice souvenirs - the older one was especially pleased with his McQueen pull-suitcase.

Day 2 - Arrive in Paris from Marne-la-Vallee. We reached around noon. Only half a day left. Decided to do Eiffel by day and night - mom did get very tired - going by Metro was a bad idea. Should have stuck to the cab. But Eiffel in all its glory by day and night was worth it. Again younger one refused to get off Dad, and we had a chill towards the evening - plus all the climbing up and down was very tiring for the seniors - but well, how many times do you do it in a lifetime, so it's ok. They were quite sportive about it.

Day 3 - Louvre. Decided to ditch the Metro after yesterday's experience and took the cab. Louvre was a good experience, everyone saw Mona Lisa - one check mark off the list. Everyone liked it, plus it kept us from the cold weather ;) We got back early around 5 PM, seniors played cards etc, after the kids went to sleep, Subhash and I took off for Paris by night - very late in the night but hey, who is complaining - went to Place de la Concorde, walked along Avenue des Champs Elysees, went to Arc the Triomphe and back - by Metro. Good experience by the night.

Day 4 - Did the Paris city tour by open bus. Everyone got to see Notre Dame, Pont Neuf, Place de la Concorde, houses of Parliament, Arc de Triomphe, Avenue des Champs Elysees, Moulin Rouge etc. And back by evening. Very tired but happy :)

Day 5 - Off to London - by Eurostar! It was a great day - weather wise, plus the sights from Eurostar were amazing! More determined to go back for a proper Eurail vacation when the kids are a little older! Arrived in the London apartment around 5 PM, it was much better weather. One of my cousins came over, we had dinner and called it a day!

Day 6 - London Eye and bus tour - much more disappointing than the Singapore Flyer because of the rain - couldn't see anything clearly. Plus cars were cramped. In Singapore, they let us all fly alone in one car, here we were with at least three other groups - although cars were empty - it was quite stupid actually. Plus the cars were less clean - probably because of the damp weather. But had a good darshan of London from a 100 ft perspective :) Took the open bus tour to cover the western part of London - went to cheapside, London Bridge and Tower bridge. Walked back on Westminster bridge before taking a cab home. We did at least two to three relaxed walks on Westminster - with Big Ben in sight - the son becomes a huge Big Ben and London Eye fan!

Day 7 - London tour - East End - started with a cab to Buckingham - saw the change of guards, then started on the East loop tour. Stopped off at Trafalgar, Piccadilly circus, Madame Tussauds, Baker Street, saw Paddington (so many remembrances from Wodehouse and Sherlock Holmes), finally ended in Regent Street. What a place! It didn't disappoint. Still feel it was over-rated, I mean, Indiranagar 100ft is equally lively ;) But the Hamley's store was a big hit with the kids! They had fun picking out their Octonauts toys and we finished with a dinner at a Thai place there and cabbed home. Fun day!

Day 8 - Mom left for her hotel and conference and we were supposed to leave back for Paris and take a flight back home from Charles de Gaulle. Or so we thought. My facebook post from after we successfully put ourselves on a plane back home - albeit at a nauseatingly high cost!

Horrifying day yesterday. London to Paris connection on easyJet refused to let us board since they were overbooked. We travelled from Luton to Kings cross, changing a bus and a train, to try the train to Paris but nothing was available. Then went to Heathrow(oh, and to reach terminal 4, took us an hour thanks to no one knowing the right directions!!) but nothing there too and we had to book ourselves fresh on Jet airways after traveling across London horribly by bus, train, cab and what not. Oh and the souvenir shopping and chocolates went for a toss in this loss of a day. And did I mention that last minute tickets from airports don't come cheap even one way?😞 One can only resort to philosophy in these situations, sigh!! Thanks a lot easyJet! Folks travelling by them next time, please remember to check in well ahead of time even if they don't mention it anywhere!!!

Note to self - never get cocky with planning - I planned a perfect trip but neglected one small step of checking-in online and paid a very nasty price for it, financially and emotionally. Well, at least I got wiser - for the next trip.

Two things that I think worked very well - renting apartments vs hotels - we got to stay together unlike in Singapore where we booked two rooms. Carrying along packaged food - MTR, Ashirvad etc were life savers, since we rented apartments, it was easy to cook rice and dal and rotis and sabzis and kids were well fed at least twice in a day. Plus laundry was a breeze. 

Want to show the seniors some more check-mark places across the world in the next few years so they can enjoy them while they have the energy and patience! Hope it all goes to plan :)


Sunday, September 13, 2015

We all ..

After a much awaited wait, father in law finally came back from his US sojourn today. Now the family feels complete again. The younger one has picked up so much conversation in the time that he was away that it is mind-blowing. He keeps them thoroughly entertained.

I know I've said it so many times and almost sound like a broken record now, but it is hard to imagine what life would be like without having parents around. When my dad goes away for a few days or mom leaves for work for sometime or father in law travels every now and then, it feels very vacant and void. When they are back, it is like a happy re-union. I feel thankful for being in this place and time and with family. Nothing really beats it. Needless to say the pampering the kids get from grandparents is truly unparalleled! And it is an experience I wouldn't have them miss for anything else in the world.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Dear WM..

Dear Digital Weighing Machine @ Cisco

It has been a long and arduous journey. And a harrowing one too at times. But we did it!

The journey started a year ago, almost exactly to date too. At 62-point-something. This time I was determined and there were no excuses, no more kids to come, no more reason to hoard all that weight. I also had access to a gym now unlike the prior years when I was on my own. Bottom-line - nothing was to stop us.

I remember walking nearly 700 meters to see you every week when I was in a building farther off. As the steam picked up (and I felt the need to walk more), the visits became more frequent. Till we met daily. I often wondered if the receptionist at the health care center thought that I was mad. But one had to do what one had to do.

Then I moved closer, and it became easier. Just a flight of stairs.

Some days you were stubborn. For weeks together, you would insist on showing the same numbers or even worse, higher! There were days when I would come expecting great stuff and be sorely disappointed. There were days when I would come out of only sheer habit and would be shocked to see a positively low number. Mixed feelings, eh?

But finally today, you acquiesced. You showed me what I wanted to see for one whole year! We did it, together. 

It was a lot of sweat (literally) and hard work - but you always kept me challenged and motivated. Especially those last 2 KGs were excruciatingly elusive - took a whopping 4 months to shed! 

Some other helping hands in the journey - those shoes and that gym..

I am going to miss having a goal to meet - but that is quite alright! The big thing is, we made it!!

Your ardent follower..

PS: I have to thank My Nokia Phone for getting me into the step counting business, and myfitnesspal.com for counting my calories for me every single day!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Bharat Mata ki Jai

Very naturally, thanks to school, Rohan has picked up the National Anthem, he sings it quite well but of course misses a few words which I have been trying to fix. I believe at the end of the Anthem in school, they close by saying Bharat Mata ki Jai, thrice.

The beauty of the whole thing is not even that..my two-year-old younger one, now sings the Anthem, of course in broken words and half sentences and what is more, also tops it off with a Bharat Mata ki Jai, thrice. Anything his brother says is sacrosanct for him and he picks up whatever his brother teaches him!

It is just heart-warming to hear them sing the Anthem and say the words "Bharat Mata ki Jai" over and over again - albeit without knowing what it really means...

Ah, the little pleasures..

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is Dad's birthday. We were all able to spend sometime together with my sister, which was undoubtedly the highlight. It is always heart-warming to see the cousins mingle and create a racket :)

Dad has always had a special place in our lives. And if I ever thought it was done, I could not be any farther away from the truth. Ever since they have moved to Bangalore, they've just enriched our lives in so many more and newer ways. Especially, Dad totally takes care of the younger one and the younger one refuses to be served by anyone except him. Not just child-care activities, he has taken on a whole lot of other tasks at home, he completely manages groceries, gardening, water, anything and everything you can think of. I have a tough time figuring out some of these things now for myself when he is traveling out of town.

For probably the first and only time in my life, I have been consistently able to let the responsibilities of a baby be taken over by someone else, wthout having to worry or be nervous about how they are managing! And that, for an OCD driven person like me, is saying a LOT!

They've always stood by me in different stages of life, regardless of how I have behaved. Without this unstinting support, I don't think I would/could have done half the things I did/do now :) So big thanks for that!

There was once this time when my dad said to me, I wonder if I will live to see you graduate (this was when he was fresh after his heart-attack in 1997). I say, dad, you will live to see my kids graduate! Amen to that!!

Here is wishing you many more years of health and happiness and here is wishing us many more years of your presence in our lives!!

PS: Dad's birthday invariably reminds me of the next day which was when I first immigrated to another country, the US. That was fourteen years ago. All these years I used to think it was the day I flew from the nest. For the past couple of years, I don't feel that way anymore, since the nest is back with me! :)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Good days..

I keep forgetting to log this one..

I had to go to Hyderabad at short notice recently. Anyone who has attempted it knows that getting Bangalore-Hyderabad railway reservations at short notice is an impossible task!

So I logged in not very hopeful. The journey was two weeks away. Normally, for a 2 AC ticket, I would expect this to be at WL25 or so. I was pleasantly surprised to see it at RAC1!!! Shocked, I booked. Expecting the ticket to be confirmed within a day. But it got confirmed only after a few days. Again surprised. (The only explanation to this can be that the number of genuine reservations has gone up vs people just clogging the pipe)

Bottom line is, somehow the railways ministry seems to have figured out how to clean up the brokers who tended to clog up the ticket pipe and clean the whole process. Amazing! I've been using this system since 2002 and I have never had a better experience!! EVER!

For folks who keep asking when the good days will come, there you are. It is such subtle and systemic changes that will slowly bring a better quality of life to the aam aadmi, and people who don't get it, well, will never get it I guess.

The black money issue too, people were crying themselves hoarse over it. In a few simple steps, the entire issue is laid to rest. First, notes which are older than a certain date are invalidated. Two, you are given a set amount of time to exchange them in banks for newer - and get this, not notes, but - funds deposited in your bank (white, white, white). So people who've been hoarding truckloads of cash since time immemorial will suddenly find that they either have to declare it all or sit on heaps of useless paper. Much better than begging some Swiss guys to reveal details and keep waiting for someone to have a change of heart! I'm sure something is being done in that direction too, but better act on what you can seems to be the motto.

There is now talk about real estate prices (which have only been skyrocketing) taking a nosedive since black money is going to slowly start evaporating from the market..

Bring it on guys, we are with you!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Boy speak

One day we were seriously discussing removing trainer wheels from Rohan's cycle, talking about how he needs to learn now and all that good stuff. After everything he goes, "Naanna, what tool will you use to remove the wheels?"


Monday, June 01, 2015

Yet another new beginning

Today schools started after the summer vacation. Older one now goes to 1st standard! I cannot believe it. It is a new experience, now he will be at school full day with snack box and lunch box and water and what not. Yeah, forget the acads, I am always worried about what he eats and whether he will eat!!! Rest if easy ;)

I hope he has a great time and many more such exciting school years. Regardless of what he felt (mostly regret, I think, at the vacation coming to an end), he got up, got ready, ate and sat in the bus and went - just like that. We got his section changed so he can be in the same class as our neighbor's kid, his only friend in the layout, so we are hoping that will have some benefits and will bring some comfort to both of them!

And a huge kudos to grandparents. Managing two rowdy boys at home all day is no joke and they did it! Phew! :)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Missing this

Yesterday we took the kids to the club house in our layout. As usual, there were kids, parents watching, some old ladies chatting etc. While I was entertaining the younger one on the slide, a woman walked along to where the old ladies were sitting and chatting and handed them a dabba. Evebtually I figured out it was Halwa which the woman had made. After all the ladies had a little bit, one of the old ladies said "Bahu ho to aisi, ise khana pakaane ka aur khilaane ka bahut shauk hai" (This is the exemplary daughter-in-law, she loves cooking and feeding people). And then some more. I presume she was her mother in law.

That instantly reminded me of my own mother-in-law. She very often used to give unhindered (and often undeserved) praise in my favour. Whenever anyone visited or when she was with her relations, I know she always found happiness and pride when she spoke of me and/or praised me! I always loved that! Now, no one there to fill that gap :( My mother-in-law was always very explicit in showing how she cherished me. Somehow yesterday I heard that and missed my mother-in-law, just like that. She manifests her presence in so many ways, even after almost four years since she left us..

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Today the son finishes two years! That seems like a long long time. And yet, it is just two years!

The brothers are worth watching :) They fight, they pull out each others hair and they also love. Especially the older one swings from one spectrum of being extremely possessive of his toys and getting really upset with his brother for playing with them to the other end where he can entertain his brother for hours on end. The younger one just blindly follows the older one. Period. Anywhere he goes, anything he says, he will follow and do it!

That also marks one year of moving into the current house. Its been a good stay so far, the teething issues notwithstanding. Looking forward to many more!

Today I ran 10K for the first time. One of my colleagues wanted me to run the TCS 10K happening later in May and I was not at all sure I could do it. Plus he wanted me to enlist for the corporate team challenge where you had to have a competitive timing et al. So I told him that I first wanted to check if I can even run or not and off I went early AM on a Sunday to test my mettle! I finished in 56 minutes and a few seconds and he was very happy and registered me for the TCS 10K! I could have never imagined this even a year ago! Me running 10K in one shot in under an hour for the very first time! Again, nothing but gratitude to my body for performing these unthinkable feats!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thirty five and how!

This week I marked being around in this world for 35 years. Funny as it seems, I rather don't feel that old. Yeah, I know what you are thinking. But really, it is true!

Around this time last year, I had resolved to lose most of my post pregnancy weight and then some more. So this past year has seen me shed close to 13 KGs and I think its fairly visible now. I get a lot of comments from "you are looking weak", "you are looking fatigued", and even "you will look old if you continue on this trajectory" to "you look like a college kid", "for a moment I didn't recognize you, I thought you were a new college hire" "you have two kids?!, I thought you had just one" and anything in between. All in all feeling really fabulous these days ;) Never better.

But more than anything, my life has always been happy. I don't ever remember my life being sad. Troubled yes, but not sad. There were a few years in my early 20s that I wish would have been written differently, but as years go by I feel that for having struggled and fought and kicked and survived then, I'm still being repaid in kind with a peaceful and happy life now. As an added bonus, parents are now with us all the time, and every evening, I think about and thank this one aspect of my life. But all this sunshine aside, the past 2-3 years have been particularly peaceful. Not at war with anything or myself. Somewhere I feel, this quiet contentment and overriding peace comes as a gift from my mother-in-law. I don't know why, but that is how I feel. Somehow since she passed, she has used whatever higher-than-us power to grant us a really peaceful state of mind and life. It is not to say that life hasn't been without its ups or downs. But just that no matter what happens, what comes and goes, I never find myself fretting or being robbed of my peace at all. Ever. Very strange and yet very true.

Here is to a cool, next 35!

Friday, April 03, 2015


Me and son yesterday - when the house-help dodn't turn up and I was mopping the house

Son : Amma, I want to do.
Me: No, you cannot.
Son: But I like to do it
Me: Anyway when you grow up and you go away for studying and then get married etc, you have to do all these, why do them from now?
Son: But I want to learn from now
Me: It's too early baby
Son: But if I dont learn from now, how will I do it when I grow up.
Me: When you are a little older, I will ask you to do it myself, not now.

And so he nagged and I refused and he nagged and I refused and I finally gave in and he mopped his grandmother's study. It was such a proud moment!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Summer vacation!

Rohan has his summer vacation now. Started yesterday. The simply most special part being that this  is the first break he is getting from school after 4.5 years! Ever since he's  been 13 months old, he's had to go to school every single day of his life and it's been zero vacations except Cisco's annual shutdown for  about a week. I am very happy for him and maybe that's why a little reluctant to send him to any summer camps. 

Of course, grandparents are contributing most to it and taking the brunt of two warring boys in their stride! Hats off to them!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

A new year to finish 10 years!!!

I finish 10 years with Cisco today. For a change, it doesn't feel like I joined yesterday or anything. It feels in fact that it's been much longer! Often I catch myself thinking, has it been just 10 years? Feels more like 15 or 20!

Considering that I've seen most major life events during this stint, I'm not surprised. In fact, aside from emigrating to the U.S, all life events have been while I was employed here. Got engaged and later married, moved back, seen my mother in law pass away, had not one but two kids, phew! Quite a lot!

And through it all, it's been an employer without fault. I've had real palpitations at the thought of quitting and going someplace else. That's when I figured, it's more than just an employer. It's second home.

I still remember those days. Of financial worries and job insecurity in a land where no job meant no status, visa issues etc. That way, whenever I think of this role, it feels like a saviour. It literally pulled me out of the dark depths of life, in more ways than one. It brings a smile to my face for sure.

Then California. Oh, was it a relief after the four years in Wisconsin. I loved Wisconsin, and Madison. But the winters, oh, those were things nightmares are made of! For a South Indian used to scorching heats, they were repulsive. Period. California was a welcome relief and a generous dose of sunshine, Indian stores and Indian-ness in general :D

I remember how I was staying with V and S, and my join date was delayed by a week, thanks to some goof up from HR in visa process. I can never thank both of them enough for the kindness they showed and for the good times I had with them, especially S :) I remember looking around for apartments, moving into one, stuff arriving from Milwaukee, setting up house and so on and so forth. And the car arriving. Just in time for the Monday morning drive to work. If I had started on time, I would have had to find a way to drive myself to and from work for that one week.

A shout out needs to go to all my colleagues in SJ. It was a fun team and one I have never been able to repeat or experience again. Especially my manager there. I am back as part of his extended team in my current role but its just not the same. He really taught me what mattered and what didn't in his own way. In fact I always maintain, between Subhash at home and him at work, they really made me a better human being!! Even after so many years of moving back, whenever I am in a spot, I just have to drop him a word and he works a 1-1 with me into his schedule. That is the stuff awesome guys are made of!

Nostalgia and memories. Good stuff.

From dream company to second home, it's been a wonderful (just) 10 years! Certainly looking forward to the next 10, and definitely hoping there will be a next 10:)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The unexpected :)

On Friday evening, one of my engineers came to my office just as I was about to leave. He mentioned that the 5C corporate challenge was this weekend (he participates every year in TT) and they were short of one runner and if I'd like to run. It was a 5K run and given that I run 4K every morning, I thought I could manage even if at short notice. I said yes, and before I knew it, I was up at 5 AM this morning and driving to Sarjapur to participate!

As if that was not unexpected enough, I actually won the Gold for women's category. I was shocked, I mean, actually shocked. These were all marathoners and 10K runners all around. In fact I told the guy who was a seasoned runner (and won the men's gold), our team's lead so to speak and who was coming along with me, that I am not a great runner and he should not expect anything but a placeholder. I was fully prepared to be one among the last people to finish. Really, I am stumped.

Victory brings a lot of satisfaction and introspection. And the more I think, the more I thank. I just feel thankful to my body first :) It has always been a very well behaved one, never caused too much trouble, delivered two kids and still keeps going. I always think of my body as separate from my brain and today my brain truly said kudos to my body :) Is that weird? :)

And then I just felt thankful for the support at home. Subhash, my parents and father in law and even the kids! It all has to just work, if I am able to get out of the house at 5 AM and drive myself 25 KMS to just run!I can't ever say enough on this one.

Lastly always been and will be proud to be part of Cisco - my dream company. I cannot believe I've lived this dream for nearly 10 years already!! I was proud to wear that team shirt today. For sure.

All in all, it was fun, shocking, satisfying and a happy business :)

UPDATE: Cisco won the Champions Trophy for the third year in a row! For maximum medals tally!