That wonderful feeling

That wonderful feeling that you don’t know enough.

It’s what keeps you wanting to study and learn.
To strive to always be better today than you were yesterday.

That feeling that you never fit in.

Because you don’t live by rules imposed by the outside.
You’ve got an internal compass of your own and you’ve learned it’s wise to trust it.
And be comfortable with who you are. Continue reading

Mixed feelings

May 2015 : Mixed feelings as I stop teaching in Bandra

I miss my lovely lot of students there and yet, I’m feeling the relief… now that I don’t have to do that crazy commute that took a good 5 hours out of each day.

I’m looking forward to taking on more students in Khargar, to getting time to make friends in my neighbourhood, and to time at home.

So for now, it’s goodbye to all my Bandra students and their very very supportive families. I wish you well.

 

2017 : Setting up in Khargar

It’s been a few years since I stopped teaching in Bandra. I have started teaching there again, but it’s just couple of students, as I work full time in Khargar, Navi Mumbai.

I don’t advertise, so setting up teaching the piano here in Khargar went slow and gave me time. I used it to study, practise and upgrade the quality of my teaching. And to make time to meet up with friends for chai.

🙂

I now run a small piano teaching studio in Khargar, Navi Mumbai and I plan for it to stay that way. Because this gives me time to focus on continuously improving the quality of my teaching. Staying small helps me do this, while getting time to have a relaxed home life, time with family and time for me.

Maintaining work life balance is a daily effort & sometimes a struggle, but it’s been going pretty good this year.

The Newspaper.. an ode to a lost friend

She was the one you could go to…

When you wanted to pick a fight with your neighbour without actually starting it yourself. A few well aimed barbs, whispered in her ear, and then, you just had to wait 10 minutes…it took just that long for your message to be delivered.

She always knew what was going on…

  • She was the one who came to tell you that your car had been stolen, just after you’d waved goodbye to the thief. Because you were so busy sitting in your balcony, having a good laugh with your family, that you thought a relative was waving to you and driving your car away.
  • She knew who visited whom, and what their business was. She had a job and she did it very enthusiastically, even though she was not paid a salary – “Keeping an eye on everyone around”.. mainly because, deep down inside, she cared.

And she kept us all safe. Because everyone knew there was always someone watching.

She was sometimes a nuisance, because she reported every minor transgression…Parents humoured her, and then had a good laugh when she left. They valued her, because she helped them keep track of what her kids were upto.

She's got lost somehow, 
In the busy busy world of today,
and I miss her.

 

Who is she?

She’s a little bit of you and a little bit of me – she’s the way we all used to be. We used to be friends with our neighbours, get in each other’s faces, rub each other up the wrong way, but when it counted, we were there for each other.

Social media and television did not exist in the Mumbai of old and we needed to bond with the community we lived in.

I’ve used a lot of artistic license, here, to make a point. Mumbai’s changing a lot and we’re losing some safety, as we struggle to live without discord in a society where there are vast differences in standards of living and cultural attitudes.

Mumbai still is one of the friendliest cities in India, but that’s slowly changing.

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I could look at you in envy

 

“Children don’t need time”

“Just have a baby, put your child in a creche, and continue with what you were doing before you had a baby. That’s what I did…” That’s  what a friend said to me in an effort to pressure me into having a baby!

I just stared at her in total shock. I could see how neglected her child was, and was horrified at her advice.

As I write this, I’m a married woman in her 40’s who does not have a child. I have never been comfortable discussing ‘why’ I don’t have a child with anyone other than my family, doctors on a ‘need to know’ basis and a few trusted friends! So, mostly everyone does not really know the ‘why.’ I feel it’s a private matter and have, unlike a lot of other Indian women, always had the support of family in this.

Up until a few year ago, I’ve been accosted by people who want me to have a baby. I use the word ‘accosted,’ because they were generally very rude and angry and sometimes even offensive – ‘Who will look after you when you grow old” was their trump card, when all other attempts failed.

“You don’t believe in God that is why you are able to accept that you are never going to be a mother” from a neighbour who was upset that I wasn’t depressed about being childless!

I’ve had a family connection – a grown man with college going kids call me up and shout at me on the phone for not having a baby! … I’m putting this down to stress from his family problems!!

I’ve been to a funeral, standing battling emotion, paying my respects to the family of the deceased and been cross-questioned one of them about being childless! …. maybe some kind of mental instability could account for this ??

I will not mention the advice that I should try IVF (in-vitro fertilization) – something I personally disapprove of, because I feel the risk of birth defects or health problems for the child, with IVF and an older mother are much higher.

I personally think that if the God’s meant for me to be a mother, they’re powerful enough to make it happen. If they, in their wisdom, think otherwise, I will be grateful for all the other joys they have given me, and not ask for more.

I have had one caring friend tell me that her children are one of the greatest joys and also the greatest hardships of her life. And that despite the struggles she is grateful to have been blessed with her kids – that children need time, love and attention, and parents-to-be should know that and be prepared for the joy and commitment of being parents, before having children.

I think she had it right!

 

The best advice i ever got

I remember this doctor’s advice, years later and it still makes me laugh, to think that solutions are just so simple sometimes!

It was a couple of visits to the beach that did it….

I got some insect bites and my foot swelled up to 3 times it’s normal size each time. After that, it was a mosquito bite which gave me the same reaction, and my GP felt i needed to see a skin specialist.

The specialist gave a a good strong dose of allergy tablets, and i walked around for 2 weeks in a coffee-induced semi-wakefulness (no driving and walking very carefully, because i normally get drowzy with mild, anti-allergy tablets) But it worked, and i had to go back for my last visit, and this is what the doctor said :

“Since you have an insect bite allergy, you need to be careful :

  1. Wear long trousers or churidars – long sleeved tops – socks and closed shoes, when you go out to the beach, the park or anywhere with insects
  2. Cover all exposed skin with Odomos

There’s only one long term solution to an insect bite allergy – and that is – TO NOT GET BITTEN!”

 

The colour of gold

The inspiration for this poem

To the average Indian woman, gold is beauty, security and an investment in her future. Sadly, it’s also for many women, a way to determine whether another woman is well off enough, that they can consider being friendly with her.

I learned this because I don’t wear gold jewellery and I often wear no jewellery at all. I’ve had full conversations with women, with their eyes glued to my ears and neck – showing me that they notice the lack of adornment. 

Worse still, we lived on rent when we first moved to our current location, moving a couple of times, before settling down in our permanent home. And every move meant making new friends from scratch.  Initial friendliness from women neighbours can sometimes turn to reserve once they’ve conducted their brief interview and realise they’re talking to someone who does not own her own home! 

It’s a value system that is so accepted in our society that families invest in gold jewellery, leaving nothing for the comforts that make daily living easy.

I often get told I’m lucky that my daily life is relatively comfortable. But it’s not about luck. It’s about personal choices and priorities and spending on what we value most. That’s where this post comes from.

Gold is the colour of :

  • All the machines that do my house work for me.
  • The comfort I get in shopping for convenience and not necessarily for discounts.
  • The education that my parents gave me.
  • The investment of both time and money, that I make in my ongoing education.
  • The family support I get, so that I can work at what I love.
  • The time I get to spend with family.
  • The silence of the morning every day, when I’m having a leisurely cup of chai

Concerned friends, have asked if I own a set of jewellery and my answer is NO. It’s a waste as I’m not going to wear it anyway. Maybe someday, I’ll consider buying some bling that’s actually gold. I don’t know – maybe…

But it won’t mean anything more to me than all the lovely stuff at Archie’s.

What 2013 has taught me

As 2013 comes to a close, I finally realise that I am not wonder woman, and it’s quite ok

This past year has been a year of change – new opportunities, new challenges and a year of goodbyes to some very special people, who were an important part of my life. Life can be so short and I need time to enjoy it – my family, friends and job – I want it all – I want it all – I want it all – and I want it now .. Freddie Mercury had the right idea.

Someday, when the years have gone by, I will look back at what I have done, and hope that it will be with a smile in my heart, knowing I did the things that made me happy and gave me joy. And with affection for the people who loved me and made it all possible.

 

On finding an imbalance between work and home

I am learning that there is no such thing as balancing home and work, but just different kinds of imbalance. You get more stuff done at home, and you have less resources to focus on your work – it’s as simple as that! These wonderful multi-tasting women who do it all, that I read about seem unreal! It’s just so free-ing, to realise, after years of trying to do everything, that there’s no way to succeed. So I am now striving to find an imbalance that works for me and my family

 

Maid in India

I have fond memories of the maid and cook we had before we moved house. I found it easier to deal with leaving my friends, but missed the house help terribly.  After moving, it took time to get help at home. The maid I got was really very honest, and nice – she would turn up either when I had just woken up, or when I was leaving for work, and the new cook took 3 hours daily to cook a dal and 2 veggies (that takes me 45 minutes on a bad day). So, when I finally ended up doing it all AND paying for it and figured that i could just do it all and not pay for it!  I do sometimes dream of having a maid or a cook, but right now am finding, that it’s less stressful without them. At least this way the house work gets shared, since everyone knows there’s no help at home.

 

Coping Techniques

  • If something can wait, just leave it be for another day – procrastinating is an art and it is well worth learning

  • Keep a couple of hours a week to deal with pending stuff

  • Spring Clean and give away unused stuff regularly, it reduces the time taken to clean up at home and getting rid of junk somehow let’s good energy into a home

  • Keep the vacuum cleaner and mop easily reachable, so small spills can be taken care of quickly

  • Look around – you will see a lot of other women in their 40s, like you, trying to do it all and not succeeding, and you will feel much better, when you know you’re not alone

  • Be an imperfectionist at home – it is better to be an average housekeeper who is relaxed, than an amazing one who is always upset that something at home has not been done

  • When things get too much, sit down with a cup of chai, put your feet up and think of something else – this takes practise, but works. You will feel much better after a little while and will be to handle it all when you’re done

 

Is it important to do everything for everyone else in the family, or let them learn to be self-reliant

Is the woman who does everything for everyone wonderful, or is it the woman who teaches her family to look after themselves and be less dependent on having help to do their work? I am sure every family has different thoughts about this. It is worth thinking about.

While it is nice to have help with the home chores, it is also quite a relief to know that the family can survive comfortably even without it, when necessary. I do think people who do work a little bit at home, keep much better health than those who don’t.

 

There’s a time for work and a time to rest

There’s a time and place for everything under the sun, and for me, this is the time to do my own house work. I know that when life thinks I really need a break, the most amazing maid and cook will come knocking at my door (like it happened when we were moving house earlier) and help will just come my way. Until then, it is important for me to accept that i have no house help, be flexible and do my best and simply leave the rest. At least that way, I’m still smiling and relaxed at the end of a busy, busy day.

To all my Teachers

Thank you,

For teaching me with love and patience. For believing in me on the days that I did not believe in myself. For giving me confidence to try even when it meant risking failure. For picking me up after a fall, and teaching me how to accept failure and move on.

Thank you also, to those of you who went out of your way to make things difficult for me. I look back and realise that I needed the obstacles you threw in my path – either by chance or by design, to make me realise that I had the ability to go over some of them on my own. And to learn to go around at those I couldn’t go over.

I feel blessed to have been taught by you all.