Introducing Two 12 Year Olds :)

Like I once said here before, there isn’t a lot to love about Kuwait. At least, not for me or my many, many expat colleagues at work. But unlike most of them, I wouldn’t say this is a horrible place altogether. It has its pluses.

And the biggest plus-feather on Kuwait’s cap is, well, that it’s in the Middle East, to start with. Which means, its connectivity to places around the world is not just good, but also pretty economical: you save both, time and money.

So, when Hobbes, Pumbaa and Khloe joined me here in May last year, we charted a plan to travel as much as we could in the time that we are here. You know how things are always bit of an ‘unexpected’ in the Middle East.

The first thing we’d to figure out was where Pumbaa and Khloe would go on vacation, while we went on ours. Chancing up on Pet Land, Kuwait, was a blessing: the two wag-a-lots are not just well fed and taken care of, they actually look and act very happy every time they’re off for a stay and when they’re back as well. So, that’s a check!

The next one was to decide which country we start our escapades with. Options were aplenty: start with the nearby Middle Eastern countries or head to the European ones? We went with the obvious and decided to choose from the ones in the middle eastern region, in this order:

Egypt – because I cannot die before I see the Pyramids, or I’ll be haunting the Earthlings forever.
Jordan – because Petra, duh!
Lebanon – because a colleague raved about it no end after he went there.
Qatar – because I have cousins there, so free stay and food 😀 (shameless, I know, but no other reason to go to Qatar, really).
Oman – well, it’s a country, it’s nearby and we’ve heard the landscape is amazing.
Bahrain – again, well, a country.

After much deliberation, we agreed that going to Egypt, just the two of us, may not be ideal (plus, a colleague was itching to come along whenever we go). The same colleague went all by himself to Jordan, so it was an easy decision to make.

And, so, like a whirlwind, a trip materialised and off we went on an 8-day tour of that faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous country called Jordan! We spent one day in Amman, one in Jerash and Dead Sea, two in Little Petra and Petra, one in Aqaba (Red Sea), one in Wadi Rum (where my heart’s gone and hidden itself, refusing to come away), one more in Dead Sea and one in Jesus’s Baptism Site before we wailed our way back to Kuwait.

Our Jordan hangover was barely over, when trip #2 materialised: not part of the list above and completely out of the blue, we were off to Turkey…with the dear friend and her family! We spent three days in Istanbul (Hagia Sophia checked on the bucket list!), one in Alacati and Ephesus, one in Pamukkale and Hierapolis and four in Cappadocia (where now a bit of my heart, that tore itself away from Wadi Rum, resides in one of the fairy chimneys).

Talks of the next trip is ongoing, but I won’t give it much thought until it materialises, since I have a talent for screwing up my own plans and dreams 😉

In all this, we decided that our trip memories needed an identity of their own, hence…

Presenting Two12YearOlds.WordPress.Com

Please follow, like, comment and share some ❤ ❤ ❤

Two12YearOlds.Wordpress.Com

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My first circus…

I remember seeing of circuses in movies – The Bombay Circus, The Gemini Circus and some others – and wondered when I would get to see one. Then I grew up some more and would hear friends talking about having seen a circus or two and what fun it was…and I wondered when I would get to see one. Then I grew up even more and got all passionate about animals and their welfare…and absolutely HATED the idea of a circus. I was glad I never saw one ever!

Then on, any time I saw of a circus via movies, all I could see was the pathetic looks, body language and the absolutely broken spirits of those animals. Each time we saw of it together, I’d always tell Hobbes I’ve never seen one and I don’t want to…and the discussion would end in animal abuse, how human aren’t humane and what not.

So, when Hobbes suggested we go for a circus, my first thought was “Errr…what!?” And then I went on to the link he shared and it looked good. I grudgingly agreed, stating “I hope the animals won’t be abused”. To which he said, there aren’t any animals, just a couple of horses…and they all look well kept!” And I got all excited because I looooove horses.

My first circus was not when I was 3, not even when I was 13. It was last week, I was all of 33 and I was just as enthralled as I would have been if I were just 3 or 13! 🙂

My first circus was The Golden Age Circus, and what an incredible experience it was! It was sheer magic, some of the acts. Some of them sheer beauty. And some, just downright dangerous-looking-adrenaline-rising acrobatics! Two hours of an evening well spent! 🙂

TheGoldenAgeCircus

And those horses…my goodness. They were absolutely shining, with lovely flowing manes, and looked extremely well fed and looked after! ❤ Granted, their training might include some harsh times, but I could see no broken spirit in them. And, the acts were simple and fun…nothing earth-shattering that the horses would have had to go through hell for. I would like to believe they haven’t gone through any mistreatment the way we’d expect bears and tigers and elephants to be in a circus, because horses are like dogs, aren’t they…ever ready to please their human partners. And they do love a bit of dance themselves! Very evident in the “Dancing and Prancing” video below…look at that beauty, just loving the “first one leg stretch, then other leg stretch” walk! ❤ Loved, loved, absolutely loved them. I reallllllllly wanted to follow them backstage and tell them how amazing they are!

Words won’t do justice, so I won’t attempt to write about each show/act. Here are some videos I took.

Double Chocolate Treat (Horses)   |    Somersaults on a Horsie   |   Dancing and Prancing (Horse)
Motors in a Deathly Bubble   |   Four Floating Fairies   |   A Super Scary Balance

There were several more, which I did not capture on camera. If these guys ever come around to where you live, please do book yourself a ticket! You won’t regret it.

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My first circus was an experience I’ll remember for a long time to come.

****** ❤ ******

Below’s what the website for the circus had, as an event description. I’ve copied it verbatim, for I believe after March 31, the page might no longer be accessible.

Since its earliest days, the circus has stood as a symbol for the world in which we live. A fantasy land where imagination knows no bounds and where frontiers simply do not exist, it is where tradition meets innovation to weave together a colorful tapestry of artistic creativity. It speaks a universal language that has captivated and enthralled audiences around the world for well over a century.

The Touristic Enterprises Company (TEC) and Cirque Madona Bouglione invite you to take a magical journey through time and space, to see the beauty and wonder of our world through the eyes of the circus.

This spellbinding spectacle will feature more than a dozen of the world’s finest circus performance acts, who will set out to captivate your senses with a breathtaking medley of circus art, music, technology and sheer fantasy.

This is the circus reimagined; an entertainment extravaganza created exclusively for Kuwait.

This is “The Golden Age”.

The fabulous world of Le Cirque Bouglione
The Cirque Bouglione has a long history in the proud and whimsical tradition of the circus.

The story originally began in Paris in 1907 with the four Bouglione brothers. Driven by their passion for creativity and performance arts, the Bougliones were true pioneers in the circus world, creating audacious, mesmerizing and completely captivating extravaganzas that enthralled audiences for decades.

Today the Bouglione legacy lives on through Madona Bouglione, daughter of the eldest Bouglione brother and founder of the circus. Although deeply rooted in the time-honored tradition of the circus, Madame Bouglione also has a profound fascination with innovation and technology.

With a clear artistic vision and a true love for the performing arts, Madona Bouglione brings together the enchantment of the past with the thrill of the future to create her one-of- a-kind spectacles. Each show features a true menagerie of artists and performers; from acrobats and dancers, to singers and actors, to mimes and the beloved clowns that symbolize the very-essence of the circus.

Welcome to the new era of the circus.

A journey through time…
an experience to enthrall the senses and dazzle the imagination…
The circus has always held a special place in the world of entertainment. A fantasy land where imagination knows no bounds, it has long enthralled audiences.

Yet, what many people do not know is that the circus has always been a birthplace of innovation and new discoveries. From its earliest days, it served as a magical window into fascinating worlds and new experiences. In fact, it was at the circus that many people first came into contact with electricity, or first saw the magnificent and magical creation that is film, or even first discovered an elephant or a giraffe.

In “The Golden Age”, Cirque Bouglione and TEC invite you to take a journey through time and space, to live through a brief snapshot of world history…as told through the eyes of a circus. It is an entertainment extravaganza created exclusively for Kuwait.

This spellbinding journey will feature more than a dozen of the world’s finest circus performance acts, who will set out to captivate your senses with a breathtaking medley of circus art, music, technology and sheer fantasy.

This is the circus reimagined, for an experience unlike anything Kuwait has ever seen.

To You…With Love, Your Little Boy!

You know how life can be a ***** if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people? Mine was like that for a rather long time. That entire time that we call the “prime of our youth”. From the time I was born till I was about…40ish, as you may say?

By then, I’d seen the worst of people, lived in the worst of places, been used, abused and seldom spared. And at that kind of age, having lived through that kind of pain, you sort of stop believing. At least, I did. Several times, several things.

I stopped believing there could be happiness. I stopped believing there could be joy. I stopped believing there could be light. And wind. And aromas. And good feelings. And love. And care. And hugs. A pat on the back. A clean bed. Some good food. A bath. A home. A family.

More than anything, I stopped believing there could be good people. Like really good human beings. I had only seen the kind that abused me: verbally, physically, mentally. Though I’ve had my escapes, I seldom saw any difference in the ones I ended up with.

In my early 40s, I managed to escape from that hell I’d been in till then. From a group of people who used and tortured me, I was sent to a house where they still wanted to use me. The guy in the house wanted me to get him his shoes, his paper, his bag. In a couple of days, he realised that I had no clue what he wanted of me, and he dropped me back where he’d picked me up from. I was then sent to another house, where a lady seemed to rather like me, but her man couldn’t stand the sight of me. I had to be “returned to the pool” again. Someone else then took me to their house. These folks were gentler, was kind to me, seemed to care for my needs, fed me well (I even got a few hugs!) But, I didn’t reciprocate. I didn’t budge. I wanted to, but I was scared. Like the proverbial cat in hot water. It’s no good opening your heart to people you aren’t sure you can trust. And as I said, I’d stopped believing in people. What if these people were up to no good either?

And I knew I was right when I was put on a very noisy, very dirty train…and sent off. To God-knows-where. I was surprised too, because one of those gentle people was crying bucket loads when she saw me leave in that train. If she liked me so much, why couldn’t I stay? The other one seemed to accompany me, because he kept appearing now and then to feed me. Anyway, after hours and hours of that train engine clanking in my ears, I got off it. That guy then took me to another house.

A kind old woman took me into the house, she seemed delighted to see me. There was a stern-looking old man as well, he seemed least moved to see me. I ate some food, took the mandatory tour of that big house and resigned myself to either more torture or another abandonment. In fact, I waited for it. For days, weeks. And then it slowly dawned on me that there wasn’t going to be any torture, nor would there be any abandonment. I was there to stay. For good.

The woman continued to be gentle and kind…and the man began loosening up too. In fact, he became my go-to person when I had nothing else to do. Well, not like I had any duties, in any case.

I was beginning to see a different side of the “people” I’d stopped believing in. There seemed to be goodness left in some of them. Yet, I was always on guard, expecting the worst to hit. I cringed at the mere sound of a cough. I started at every sneeze. Every time a vessel or a ladle clanked on to the ground, I bolted. And in each of these instances, either the kind old woman or the no-longer-stern old man held me close and comforted me, assuring me all was well.

I was told by the kind woman to call her Ammumma and to call the man Appuppa. I was told I am in Trivandrum. I was told I was in God’s Own Country, and that God had seen enough of my misery and had finally given me a home (and I believed it, because I was actually seeing people who were capable of being kind and loving!) in God’s very country. I was told I was there to stay forever, and all I had to do there was enjoy my life. I was told there would be no use, abuse or torture. I was told there were no expectations of me. I was shown where the kitchen is, where my food would be served, where all I could sleep, where all I could go, what all I could do, who all I would meet.

For the first time in my life, I was not told what I could/should not do! For the first time in my life, I was happy. For the first time in my life, I began believing again. And the first of my new-found beliefs was that I was HOME. And that I had a family. And that there were God Human Beings (no, that’s not a typo)!

My life with Ammumma and Appuppa at Bhamalayam was nothing short of a fairytale. I had visitors (can you believe that!?) streaming in to see me, the new member of the family. Some of them, though not very fond of me, always came with some goodies for me. I was constantly checked on…to make sure I was happy and comfortable. I was constantly apologised to (boy – was that new!) every time they saw me cringe, start or bolt. I was hugged, kissed and cared for like there was no tomorrow!

Appuppa: the guardian of my safe spot. Anytime I felt uncomfortable or uneasy, I would quickly go and position myself beside his chair. He hand would automatically reach out and assure me that all was well. He wouldn’t gush over me like Ammumma would, but he did have a few special words for me and a special softness of voice and tone reserved for me. One look from him, one touch…and I knew perfectly well how loved I was and that I was completely secure in his presence. He made my bed on the couch (well one of my many beds in the house) and let me sleep in comfort. He let me into his car and took me places. He had a special glint in his eye every time he spoke of me…and to me. And, his meals were never complete unless that last bit was shared with me.

Ammumma: My guardian angel. My constant conversationist. My source of compassion and love. She would make me my bed, give me warm blankets, why she even gave me a hand-made pillow! She fed me everything I wanted…and often more than that too. Sometimes if I was too full, I wouldn’t eat something she gave me. She would think it was because I didn’t fancy the taste…and immediately replace that with something else! Everything she made tasted like manna to me, so I would end up forgetting that I am full and wolf it all down. Why say more: she would even shoo away her own son if she ever thought he was bothering me.

And I: The spoilt little boy of Bhamalayam, experiencing people, feelings, foods and life in a way I never imagined I ever would.

Appuppa was my pack leader and I was his favourite pack member. I’ve seen and heard him with many other members of the pack. Not once have I heard him speak to anyone else with the same affection he had for me. I knew I was special to him, he knew he was special to me too. It was our little secret…and I let it stay that way because Ammumma always thought only she was special to me 😉 ❤ ❤ ❤

And how she was! I was her shadow. Constantly checking on her, making sure she wouldn’t leave me alone for too long. Keeping her company late into the night as she sat in her favourite chair, scrolling through her phone messages or reading the newspaper. It was a matter of pride for her that I was her shadow. She would say that to everyone. How I was constantly keeping her in my line of sight, how I kept her company and even woke her up in the mornings. How I was always by her side and demanded that she kept massaging my little head 🙂 ❤ ❤ ❤

I also briefly had to live with Ammumma’s son, Ayuchettan, who scared the bejeezus out of me initially. I don’t know what it was about him – his loudness, his unruliness, his civet-like manner – but I was scared of him. I was also constantly scared he would eat all my food. The minute he emerged from his room, I would keep running away and beyond. Somewhere deep inside, I knew he meant me no harm, but I didn’t like the fact that he suddenly appeared in this house which was given over to me for free use. Anyway, he moved out soon enough and I had my home and my Ammumma and Appuppa all to myself. Occasionally, when he visited after that, I was civil to him. And as the visits grew farther in time and fewer in number, I realised that he’d always only loved me and hoped that I’d love him too. We’ve had many good moments together, much to everyone else’s amazement. I’m glad I had the chance to show him that I loved him too! 🙂 ❤

A few others I absolutely loved and had amazing times with were Mayammumma, DineshAppuppa, Divyachechi and Darshi. That house was my vacation home. Such fun! Don’t know where Divyachechi and Darshi vanished to, but my vacation home always remained intact! 🙂 ❤

Piyachechi used to drop in now and then. The first time she appeared in the house was when I realised this was the same girl who wept bucketloads when I got on that train and left. She’d loved me way too much, but didn’t have a place for me in her house. And that’s why she decided that I should be with her mom and dad…and she transported me to the best place on earth. She’d go “Boooch babyyyy…” and shower much love on me. It used to surprise me that despite having Pumbaa and Khloe with her, she could still love me like that. She even bought the two of them home for a month once. How fun that was. Khloe and I bonded instantly, and Pumbaa got a little jealous. It was much fun playing hard to get when he tried to befriend me. And finally when I decided to let him be friends, it was a bit too late – he was thoroughly fed up of me and made that very vocal too! Sigh. Field days, those were! 🙂 ❤

Oh, I must not forget the story of “Mother Bruce”. I had this habit of taking long afternoon naps and then getting up all groggy. I would want to walk out of the bedroom, but I always somehow stalled by the door-frame, with the tip of the curtain draped over my head. Appuppa would look at me then and loudly announce to no one in particular, “Mother Bruce has risen!” 😀

I also remember a Thiruvathirakali practice that happened at home once. There were a bunch of women who were all yapping loudly and not letting me sleep in peace. So, I decided to entertain them and be entertained myself. In my classic fashion, I walked right into the group, expecting squeals of delight (like the ones from Ammumma when she sees me). To my utter surprise, there were people going helter-skelter, screaming, yelling, jumping over each other and what not. All at the sight of poor me! Gosh, it was such cacophony that I chose to exit the house quickly! I thought a module of C.A. that’s loudly taught at the neighbour’s house would be far less painful to my ears! 😀 😀 😀 What ensued after I exited is a tale I’ve only heard Ammumma tell and re-tell to all and sundry…but the glee on her face every time she narrated this story to someone! Only I – let me repeat – ONLY I could ever bring that kind of joy to her 😉 Oh and that other time I went on a walk by myself through the unknown pathways of Mangalam Lane. Gosh – I gave her and Appuppa such a scare, but that was a fun day. Only I could have done something drastically stupid like that and gotten away with it (anyone else would have got royally beaten up by Ammumma and Appuppa for putting them through sheer stress) 😉

In all, I had a most amazing time there. If I spent 40 odd years of my life in Hell, I truly believe that I had about 400 years’ worth of grand times in Heaven – with Appuppa and Ammumma. Which is why, even though it was about time for me to leave, I made sure I waited and welcomed Hobbes into the family. I heard that Hobbes told Piyachechi that his enduring memory of me is how I was standing in front of the lamp, along with Ammumma, welcoming the two of them into the house on Feb 18, 2018. That’s a pretty sweet thing to say about me.

Hobbes, thank you for all that you did for me…I’ll never forget you. Ammumma and Appuppa really needed you there when I left 🙂 ❤ And, please tell Piyachechi that it was my blessing, having had that life with Ammumma and Appuppa 🙂 ❤


Appuppa and Ammumma,
I want to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for giving me nearly five years
of love, comfort and the security of your home and hearts!
If Piyachechi says I made you all better people with my unconditional love,
that’s only because the two of you loved me so much
that I began to believe again!
I know it tore you apart to see me go,
but please always remember that
I know you’ve always done what’s best for me
.
Though I miss you to bits, I’m happy here, I have good company.
I will always see you from up here and love you through your days.
It will hurt me to see you cry for me…instead,
be happy in my thoughts and memories,
because no matter how many years pass,
I’ll always remain your little boy!

Lots of love, licks, wags and head-nudges,
❤ Your little Bruce Nayar ❤

IMG_20180305_110124_EDIT_1

— A guest post based on a true story, by Bruce Nayar
(from the other end of the Rainbow Bridge)

Day 30: You’ve not lived today until…

You’ve not lived today until you have done something
for someone who can never repay you!
John Bunyanjohn-bunyan

I found the words tremendously meaningful…
…because, we can never say for sure someone can never repay us (not even after either of our times is up, because the impact of some good things are felt long after it is done) and that means we continue trying to do something to that effect for as long as we live. How better can then your life be, if you persist to do something amazing everyday? 🙂

…and the image immensely touching
because, it speaks not just a thousand words, but a million emotions as well!

I am glad I came across this today,
to be able to make this my closing post for NaBloPoMo 2016!
.

THANK YOU
Swaram.
And all the lovely ladies, for a month of amazing reads.
This was fabulous!

Day 25: Why “Kinder” is the funniest word!

As I read the word “Yemble” on this post from Shail, I laughed out loud, both at the hilarity of the word and at a similar one from my ‘family’ vocabulary.

Both sides of my family — Amma’s and Achan’s — are huge. My dad is the eldest of seven kids and my mom the fifth of seven kids. So, counting the two sevens plus their spouses and kids would come up to — ermmm…just doing some calculations here, give me a moment — 27 on the dad’s side and 29 on mom’s. That’s a whopping 56 of us. We can be declared as qualifying to be a tiny village! 😀 And there have been times when a majority of this big number got together. Weddings, some Onams, some  New Year eves…

One such time was, when I was about three, on a trip we made to Ahmedabad, where my dad’s second sister lived. Some folks from mom’s side came along too. Frankly, I don’t recall the trip at all: the only visuals are from fading photographs in old albums I’ve seen many hundred times, and this particular incident is from the tale having been told and retold by many in the family, much to the chagrin of my aunt (though she’s gotten over it well enough to remind me every time we speak, that it happened) 😛

Oh, and I forgot to say: we’re a very boisterous group. The 56 together, as well as the 27 and 29 separately as well. Yes, this point is critical to the story 😛

So, I was the youngest of the crowd, with just one kiddo below me, who was too much of a toddler (or so I like to think, though he was only 5 months younger). The elders were all in the big living room, making merry. The kids (if I recall right, about six of them) were probably making more merry in the other room or the dining area. I was sitting in my aunt’s room, in one corner, playing with something-I-obviously-don’t-recall. So, when everyone decided to go out and my aunt came into the room to change, she didn’t notice me sitting in that corner…at least, not until she was midway changing into a salwar-kameez from a housecoat. And then she thought, “She’s a tiny tot, what harm can there be?” Little did she know, when she opened the door a minute later, what was in store (for near eternity).

I shot out of the room, thrilled with my discovery, yelling at the top of my voice, loud enough to be heard in a boisterous crowd of over 20 people: “Njaan Amba Ammai-de bown kinder kandeeee!

There was absolute silence for a couple seconds, before the entire household dissolved into laughter, making my aunt nearly float out of her room in utter embarrassment. For I’d just screamed out to everyone that I’d seen her brown panties! This was way back in 1987-88, when mentioning anything about innerwear in front of people of the opposite sex was a big no-no. And here I was, declaring it out loud for all the men (and women alike) in the room to hear,  complete with colour! 😛 I’d run out of the room yelling “I saw Amba Aunty’s brown underwear!”

As I mentioned at the start, I don’t know how, when or by whom this was coined, but in my mom’s side of the family, the word ‘kinder‘ meant underwear! And once she became part of my dad’s family, it got accepted that side too.

Which is probably why, for a long time, every time I heard the word Kindergarten, I would go Aiyyyeeee and Hihihihi for a while! The first time of that being when I asked my parents what the expansion of LKG/UKG was 😛 And well, when Kinder Joy came out with their advertisement on TV first — boy, it was kinder joy for us indeed! We laughed for hours! And the most curious cat of the family even bought one immediately, just to see what it looks like, though not wanting to ever eat it 😛 OK, that was me! 😀

The good part being, among family members, we can discuss ‘kinder’ matters in public without having to ever be embarrassed because no one knows what it is. Ooops…unless one of you readers happen to be in close vicinity 😀

Day 23: Good things = Amazing people

So, in my previous post, I spoke about how I had to do a wardrobe rehaul, very unhappily.

Let me explain.

I’m the kind of shopper that walks into a clothes store knowing exactly what it is that I need. I go straight to that department, get what I want and leave. Yes, that’s me. And that’s all the patience I have for shopping. I don’t window shop, I don’t ‘just’ browse inside a shop, and I never stay on longer than I absolutely need to.

My “shopping” normally lasts 15-30 minutes (including a trial), and that’s depending on how long the line at the cashier is. Any more than 45 minutes, and I normally leave whatever I picked up and get the hell out, planning to come back later in the middle of a weekday! In my 31 years of existence, I’ve never had a shopping spree, till the time I had to go shopping for western formals, a category I knew NOTHING about, with none other than the Queen of Subtlety and (self-declared, but totally justified) Fashionista! And not once, but twice! 🙄

Since she had never seen me in western formals ever, she offered to help me shop on ONE condition: I should try out everything she would pick for me. 😐 And boy, did she have fun! I think she took it as her opportunity to torture me by getting out of my jeans and chequered shirt and sneakers…making me get in an out of  everything I used to roll my eyes at earlier.

The first time, we shopped for over two hours. 😮 TWO bloody hours! I tried on at least 11 pieces of formal clothing! And I had to come out each time, let her pass judgement and then go back and come out in the next. Trust me, after just 2-3 times of that, I was exhausted and wanting to leave, but no! I didn’t buy all 11 of those, of course. Which meant my wardrobe was still a million miles from being even quarter-full. At the end of it though, I wanted to cry like a baby and say “I want to go hoooooooome!” I didn’t do that, but the sweetheart that she is, she took me to a nice little place and bought me pancakes and omelette. Such joy after all that torture. 😛

Before I left for home, she said “You do know this isn’t over, right? We need to get you more stuff.” And I mumbled and said I would let her know when I’m ready. She will kill me for this, but I vaguely recall throwing a tantrum at home saying “I hate shopping, I don’t want to go!” and sulking about an hour before I was supposed to meet her for Round 2. And, I may have even considered cooking up a story to postpone the shopping meet. 😐 But yeah – I could not be a baby. I was off to a foreign country, having to wear totally “foreign” clothes. I had to get the best help.

The next time, we shopped for over 4 hours (!!) and she made me try on at least (I kid you not) 25 pieces of formal clothing (or was it 40?!). 😮 At the end of it…well, honestly, I now don’t remember how that day ended! It was some serious brain damage for me. Phew! I can safely say that she had more fun (I say this because she was fully excited explaining the shopping stories to a few other friends while I barely wanted to talk about it!), and totally at my expense–pun intended, considering how much money I spent in one day. They all had 4-digit price tags!!! Jesus — how does the average person afford all this?  I would not even remotely be exaggerating if I say in just a day I spent more than I spent my entire lifetime buying clothes. 😐 Good Lord! Not to mention how she took every chance to thupp at my sneakers and jeans and say “Bwahahaha” 🙄 Oh, she also made me buy the girly, snug-fit, narrow-legged jeans I used to thupp at once up on a time (because I used to only wear straight-fit, ‘boy’ jeans)!

And then I did something REALLY stupid. I told a colleague of mine that the WIFE was doing this. And I said this to this darling girl who is a total shopaholic. She went ballistic that I did not include her in that experience. And demanded I share pictures of everything I bought. Sigh. Which I did. And she went “Here I am, hoping she would have bought you all kinds of clothes to make you look like a doll. Instead, you bought trousers and shirts!?” 😦

She took it up on herself to buy me western dresses that would make me look like a doll. Actually, she told me I should have bought skirts and summer dresses and all that 🙄 And I may have mentioned I don’t know what to buy and that if she wanted to help, she was free to do so. Well, though I said “help”, I meant “do it for me, I’m not interested” 😀 And she still took it seriously! 🙂

It was absolute madness and quite funny. She proceeded to spend hours and hours on Myntra site, looking at dresses, shortlisting, all that and I would take no more than two minutes to to look at them all (about 20 at a time :P) and say “Too short” “Too costly” “No sleeves” “Too colorful”. She would tell me to sit with her and look through the site…and I would just say “I have work!”

God. So much money that darling girl spent on her Internet charges 😛 Finally, she told me to just shut up and wear the ones she would order for me! And she ordered and ordered and ordered. In fact, we had a team member who was an ex-Myntra employee and had a huge discount card she could use anytime. We made her do the actual “order placing” on the site, using coupons and everything. It finally became a big project needing a lot of coordination and feedback and “tweaks”, that we had to start a WhatsApp group only for this! By the end of this, I’m pretty sure the darling girl even knew the SKU numbers by heart. And the ex-Myntra girl–such a darling–sat up late into the nights, ordering, raising return requests and ordering again! 🙂

Since we both had to go to office, and there was no one at my home to collect when delivered, we gave her home address. Her mother went completely bonkers, opening the door every 2-3 times, every single day for the next 2 weeks, to collect packages from a Myntra delivery guy each time! Normally Myntra delivery guys call in advance to ask address, route, etc. After 2 days of multiple deliveries, just about everyone at Myntra knew her house 😛 And they even stopped demanding that someone open the door to collect. If her mom was late to reach the door, she would often find a package dropped in through the window! 😀

She would then bring the dresses to office next day, make me try them on. After a point, I lost track of the number of dresses I tried–of which, few I kept and returned most 😛 The good thing was that they were all in 3 digits. She then demanded I take a day off and go to her house with my entire purchase (including what the WIFE helped buy) to do a trial + mix-and-match session.

Though they all had fun shopping for me, I did not enjoy it at alllllll. I was confident I would never pull those off. And hated how happy the WIFE and the darling girl were while I was in utter despair!

Till the time I reached here, got into a pair of trousers, a formal shirt, a blazer and a pair of formal shoes and felt just fine. Till I wore one of the dresses with a pair of pretty shoes and felt just fine. Till I saw myself in a skinny jeans, a proper ‘girl’ top and a pair of flat shoes and felt just fine.

So totally fine that even today, after 7 months, I’m just as grateful to these two as I was on Day 1 at my new job 🙂 ❤

(But, I still wait eagerly for my Thursdays to be in jeans and T-shirts, and once in a while I do go back to my ‘boy jeans’ and sneakers and chequered shirts! Such contentment those days, I tell you! Only, since no one knows my tomboyishness here, which doesn’t even seem possible in all my very lady-like attire, I siffer rfom a major identity crisis! I fit in so well with the larger (and always well-dressed British crowd, but I miss the me I would happy being. Sigh. And before you thupp at me for saying this, dear WIFE, think of how you’d feel having to go to work in a salwar-kameez every day. Ha! 😐)

As for where I got all that money to “splurge” with absolute abandon on a wardrobe I wasn’t even sure I would like? I will just say I have AMAAAAAAAAZING people in my life who let me redeem all those accumulated credit card points as Marks&Spencer and Shoppers Stop vouchers. Basically, my wardrobe came to me fully filled, fully free 🙂 I’ll never stop being grateful to you for that! ❤picture1

Day 22: ‘For the apparel oft proclaims the man’

This phrase isn’t mine, of course. It was coined by the great Shakespeare. For his famous play, Hamlet, where Lord Polonius enlightens Laertes on a few rules of life; the phrase in question addressing the point of “being presentable.” Most of us commonly know this phrase as “Clothes/Dress maketh a man.

Over 3 years ago, a week before joining Accenture, I received a call from my soon-to-be manager, for confirmation that I will be joining his team (well, a good two months had passed since the interview, so confirmation was justified, I suppose). That’s when I was “by the way” informed that there is a dress code that’s to be strictly adhered to in office. “Business formals — western or Indian,” he said. How I managed not to blurt out “What! Are you serious!?” beats me. Or ummm, maybe I did blurt that out. Subtlety is not (always) my closest companion.

Dismay. Anxiety. Panic. In that order. And a good amount of self angst! Why do I always say “Mmm…not right now, nothing.” at every job interview when they ask me if I have any questions? Why do I not ask these severely important, life-altering questions? Why! W.H.Y!?

For 23 years of my life, someone other than myself decided what I would wear. At kindergarten. At school. At college. And again, at college. Then one fine day, the great powers of the universe conspired in my favor. I got a job in an advertising agency. That was the beginning of a new era. Well, I wish I could say I was like a caged animal let free, and all that. Sadly, no. I suppose the conditioning over 23 years was pretty binding.

But.

I did discover the joys of “casual” dressing. Of wearing a comfortable pair of jeans every day (yes, different clean ones). And the comforts of shirts that don’t fit in the formal category (and at times, T-shirts). And every company I worked at allowed me to wear those. And not all of them were advertising agencies, let me tell you; there were other Fortune 50 giants in the list too. And in all those years, not only did I forget that “dress code” was still in practice, I also reached a stage where my wardrobe scored a grand zero in the formal wear department, Indian or otherwise!

To quote a very observant ex-colleague of mine, I’m apparently “more boyish than many boys” she knows. Must give her credit for this one because it is true. In my defense, I grew up in a house full of boys — what else can one expect? So yes, the comforts of a good pair of sports sneakers is something I have fallen addict to…and the only kind of outfits that goes with them are western casuals (not my fault!) 😀 Yes, my love for sportsy footwear is actually the only biggest reason for my choice of preferred attire!

Or maybe not. As a person too, I’m not too “formal.” While I am courteous and polite, I’m in that category that generally goes “Yaaaaaaaayy!” where others might opt to just say “Oh, that’s great news!”

So where were we? Ah – dismay, anxiety and panic. Dismay that I only had the weekend to go shopping (I left the previous company on a Friday and joined Accenture the following Monday). Anxiety of not knowing which shops to walk into, what kind to buy and if I’d ever feel comfortable in those. Panic of realizing that anything and everything I picked from the Indian business formals (read as Kurtis and other such) department were either too big or too small (leaving me feeling like Goldilocks who got into a house that had no baby bear living there)! But wardrobe rehaul was done, not too happily.

It was a struggle, those initial days: of not having a pocket to stuff my phone and wallet into…of having to go rickety-ricket on a pair of sandals (which I still do, without failing to go “twainnng!” and nearly toppling over at least once a day — God, I miss my sneakers!)…of not being able to pull on that favorite shirt and feel secure and warm in its apparent familiarity…and other such. (Frankly, after a full two and half years, I still never came to terms with it; oh, how I wait for the blessed Fridays.)

And just about when the rumour mills began buzzing with news of a soon-to-come casual-everyday dress code in Accenture, I got myself offered a job in Kuwait, which I grabbed. And, like lightning on a snake-bite victim, the HR said they have a “western formals only” dress code, since the company is mostly British. Bloody Nora! 🙄

For some strange reason, though I was always most at home in a pair of jeans, I’ve never worn formal trousers in my life, except try it on once inside a trial room before quickly discarding it (along with the thought of ever having to be in one). So, this was NOT good news for me.

Again.

Dismay. Anxiety. Panic. In that order. Dismay that I was finally having to suffer for the WIFE‘s constant curses of my boyish attire and my worst nightmare was coming true (OK, that’s taking this a bit too much – my worst nightmare is ever having to go to jail). Anxiety of not knowing which shops to walk into, what kind to buy and that I will never be able to carry off the “formal” look. Panic at the price tags that were mostly in the 4-digits category and me simply not being rich enough. But wardrobe rehaul was done, not at allllll happily.

Because  I had to go shopping for western formals, a category I knew NOTHING about, with none other than the Queen of Subtlety and (self-declared, but totally justified) Fashionista! Not once, but twice! 🙄 That’s a whole new post, my shopping experience with two people who were hell bent on making me a girl (finally! as they would add).

Now, going back to how “the apparel oft proclaims the man.” What’s really the idea behind being dressed a certain way four days of the week and differently on the fifth? I can discern no difference in how things  on Fridays (or Thursdays, in the Middle East) are, compared to the rest of the week: not in the responsibilities we shoulder, the tasks we handle, or the people we work with. In fact, at Accenture, Fridays never cut us any slack! There have been several instances of people pinging me on Skype (internal office chat) a little before 8.30 p.m. (we worked 11 a.m.- 8.30 p.m.), lamenting the fact that we were “still working at this hour on a Friday evening.” And, it’s the same story here on Thursday. We work straight from 8 through 5 on every single Thursday! 😛

I read somewhere that “people make assumptions about work ethic, intelligence and professionalism based on how others are dressed while at the office.” So then, do none of these (work ethic, intelligence and professionalism) matter on a Friday? 😀 So yeah, what makes the Friday more casual than the rest of the days, that we are allowed a bit more freedom in matters concerning our “apparel”? If there is a logic, it beats me. It will be muchly appreciated if any of you can give me some insights into this. Also, let me clarify right away that I am not proposing being allowed to wear torn jeans and ripped shirts and so on I’m only talking about permissible limits to being “casual” in a professional environment. I honestly believe we’re all at our best on every given day, including on Fridays/Thursdays – so, does it really hurt to allow through the week, what we currently are allowed to wear on a “dress-down day”? *tilts head in hope, waiting for the Al-mighty to say “Al-right…go ahead!”*

Sigh. I miss my jeans and sneakers! I do, I do, I still muchhhhhhhhhhhly do!