Scones…all of a sudden!

Something I’ve wanted to eat, so desperately, every time I read an Enid Blyton book.

Scones, warm and buttery, shared over an evening tea.
Scones, warm and buttery, topped with strawberry jam and a dollop of cream, shared by friends in their garden shed.
Scones, warm and buttery, filled with the goodness of blueberries, wolfed down by hungry girls after a lacrosse match!
Scones, warm and buttery, relished while perched on the strong boughs of the Faraway Tree!

As a 12-year-old living in Trivandrum of the late 90s, scones were something that could only be savoured in my imagination! I imagined the taste, the texture, the softness, the pure joy. I imagined it to look inviting and appealing. I imagined having it at one of my school parties after final exams. I imagined unpacking a box of scones during a school excursion. I have imagined a lot of scones, in short 😀

After about 7-8 years, I found something in a bakery, which the owner told me was a  Cream Scone. I jumped at it, bought one, bit into with much joy and immediately spat out and threw from my hand 😀 Yuck. “These aren’t scones“, I told him indignantly. It was just something shaped like an ice-cream cone, filled with sugary cream. Uuuugh. It was not warm, not buttery, and definitely not soft. And, did not look in the least fancy!

In time, I forgot about them. Then, after the Internet age dawned and flourished, every time I came across the word scones, I always meant to look it up, but never managed to.

Until last Thursday,  11th October 2018 (yes, verrrrrrrrrry late, I know!), when I opened my blog, saw a reply to a comment I left in another blog on Enid Blyton books and was hit by the thought of warm buttery scones! I immediately went on Google to look for images of scones and went “EH!?”

Scones

I guess despite telling the shopkeeper what he gave me wasn’t a scone, I might have expected scones to actually be shaped like a cone and have jam and butter filling 😀 Or, at least to look more fancy. These pics did not look fancy at all! Well, not the scones by themselves (though the accompaniments made the whole photograph pretty colourful and bright). They didn’t look warm or buttery or soft. Maybe I imagined it all wrong and simply craved for the wrong thing all these years. Blow Enid Blyton and her art of converting the mundane into yummilicious awesomeness!

Yesterday, Sunday, a colleague returned to work from his 3-week Canadian vacation and told us how he learnt from his aunt to make…yes, scones! What a coincidence. To this, another colleague went “Oooh, really? I’ve always wanted to taste a scone.” And, there I interjected and dashed her dreams using my new-found knowledge on scones, saying it’s not as fancy as it sounds, it is a flat, squarish thing and “looks more like an egg puff with no egg inside” 😛 And she goes “Really? I thought it was like a cone-shaped something, creamy and sweet“. And then, accompanied by nods from the new scone chef, I proceeded to tell her how it’s made and how quick and simple the whole process is, and most importantly how it is not shaped like a cone.

And today, Monday, I ate my first ever scone! And, while it looked exactly as scones look, the dear little thing definitely lived up to every bit of my imagination.

It was warm, buttery, soft and oh-my-good-lord-delicious!

And now, I feel like an entire era has come to an end 😉 The Age of the Scones is officially over!

My school that never was…

even remotely close to Malory Towers: the dream school, one of Enid Blyton’s best creations. And, how I’ve longed to be there!

I came across Malory Towers first when I was a 4th of 5th Std student, standing patiently by my cousin as she rummaged in her mom’s trunk at home, looking for “some Enid Blyton books you might like”. I saw a neat stack on books on one side, the topmost one titled “First term at Malory Towers”. Hardbound, with a most inviting cover picture. Yet, I took only the two books my cousin lent me—The Faraway Tree and The Enchanted Wood—and went my way. “Finish these and I’ll lend you the next set”, said she.

Well, in all probability, 2-3 days later, I went back for the next set. I was a fast, voracious reader (I still am). If I start on a book, I hate to stop in between. There was a time when my cousin used to take me to the lending library every 14 days during my summer holidays, because the minimum lending period without fine was 14 days. And, I would always take away 13 books every once in 14 days, much to the librarian’s initial wonder and later chagrin 😀 But, I digress.

So, yes, I must have been all of 10 when I got my hands on the Malory Towers series…and I was thoroughly lost in that world. The dormitories, the common room, the classrooms, the swimming pool, the games courts, the stable, the dining room. The pantomimes, the plays, the lessons, the tricks, the midnight feasts. The friends, the foes, the jealousies, the pity, the scorn, the sarcasm, the fun, the friendships, the evolving characters. Darrel, Alicia, Sally, Irene, Belinda, Gwen, Mavis, Betty, Daphane, Mary-Lou, Bill and Clarissa. And the other girls who came in one term and left later for various reasons. The headmistress, the mistresses, the support staff. The parents.

The book went through Darrel Rivers’ six years at boarding school, before she went off to University. So, at the end of the series, I counted back and realised that The First Term would be her Std 7 😀 And, in two years from then, I myself would be in Std 7 🙂 What joy if we could have half that fun!

Cut to my school.

My own school life was totally different. I was in a mixed school, a day-school, which had classes from Lower KG right up till Std 12. A most horrible man for Principal and a horde of teachers who believed that teaching was all about terrorising kids. Well, at Stds 5 and 6, we were considered too little for the teachers to take notice of us. I don’t remember bad times during then. So, these things didn’t quite affect us either. But when I look back now at Stds 8 and above, I have no good memories of that school. No good memories of amazing teachers. No good memories that ever made me want to go back there as an alumni.

Over 90% of our teachers, teaching in a co-ed school as they did, were completely loathe to seeing boys and girls interacting. And especially so for Stds 9 and above. There was to be no gender mixes in friendships, girls were not to be seen with boys and vice-versa, and had no hold over their (often in bad taste) runaway tongues. And, it did not help one bit that I was every bit a tomboy and had more male friends than females.

There was favouritism of the highest order. I was a good singer, but there were already other tenured singers who went their way up from Lower KG. I was a fresh face from Std 5. In a singing competition, they initially announced the 1st prize for me, saw one of the tenured singers burst into tears…and promptly shifted the award in her name. I was taken aside and told “You know you are a better singer, we all think so. But see, we can’t make her miserable because she’s always won it till now. As long as you know you are better, what does an award matter?” And the second, third and consolation prizes all went the usual ones who would receive them before I joined the school. I was a mere 10-year-old, who felt extremely hurt and insulted, and vowed to never sing in that school again 😀

Through Stds 6, 7, 8 and 9, I remember the extreme animosity between boys and girls in our classes…mainly because our teachers hated to see any unity and always made remarks to the likes of “Girls of this class are…” and “Boys of this class are…”, generalising every single incident, even if it only included one or two individuals. And, students were always at fault. Anyone who weren’t 1st, 2nd or 3rd rank holders in each class were too “useless and dumb” in their eyes. On hindsight, those days, I used to hate the boys in my class because their animosity (egged on by our teachers) were quite visible and continuous. And vice-versa. And, at the same time, most of my closest friends were my brother’s friends—boys who were 2 years elder to me—and other boys who were neighbours! Yet, not a single male friend did I have in my own class. Years of this had tuned us to hate classmates of the opposite gender.

It was while I was in Std 10 that we had a most lovely and able man for a Principal, one who looked at things from the students’ point of view as well. And, it was in that year that I, breaking out of my girls-only-cocoon, made friends with some boys in the class. And, instantly, became a sore spot in the eyes of my teachers. A series of horrible things happened, but we as a group went through them like they didn’t matter. But one day, all hell broke loose when our History teacher, who was known as the terror of the school, injustly accused my friend for something I did. She marched into class, and started abusing both of them, in front of 35 other startled boys and girls. I was seething, but my friend told me to let it go, that she was happy to take the blame. But when that horrible woman then started being downright vulgar in her “character assessment”, I flew into an absolute rage. In front of that same startled classroom, I put her violently in her place. I told her she was a disgrace to the entire teaching community, to the women community and to human community, the way her mind works. I no longer remember what exactly I told her, but my tirade was so loud and strong, she was speechless. When I was done, still trembling with rage, she said “I’ll report you to the principal and have you expelled”, to which I said “Not if I get to him before you do”. I marched into the Principal’s office, narrated the entire incident, and owned up to having yelled at a teacher. He heard me out patiently and as she barged in a while later with a group of her close allies (equally horrible disgraces to all those aforementioned communities), he made her apologise to me. Oh, how she hated me, for the entire school heard about this and she was no longer a terror. Earlier, boys and girls in conversation would flee in separate directions if someone so much as whispered that the History teacher was coming their way—because she could not stand the sight of a boy and a girl talking outside class. After this incident, the minute someone spotted her, they would grab the nearest person from the opposite gender and start a loud happy conversation. Well, I did not wish for any of this to happen, I only stood up for what I thought was right that day. But, she hated me for ruining her ‘aura’. She cursed me in front of my classmates before we went for our Std 10 board Exams, telling me I’d fail pathetically in my exams and be a disgrace to my family and myself, and that I’d never reach anywhere. She said “The curse of a teacher is the worst and will always come true. You just wait!” She also carved into one of the school walls the absolutely miserable marks I would score. It was with immense pleasure that I went to meet her when the results were announced, taking her to that very wall and showing her that her stupid predictions didn’t come true, for I’d passed with flying colours. The last thing I said to her was “You’ve to be a ‘genuine teacher’ for a ‘teacher’s curse’ to come true.” And, strangely, I felt no guilt, for that woman genuinely deserved no respect! That Principal didn’t last their long, of course. The post was taken over by one we could call a rubber-stamp, and the aforementioned teachers ruled the roost.

In Stds 11 and 12, school turned out to be a nightmare for most of us, especially for me, no thanks to my “history” with the History teacher. And anyone who dared to be my friend was treated with the same contempt 🙂 Which only brought out the worst in us. The Math teacher HATED us enough to screw up her face in disgust if she saw us: because some of us weren’t so good in Math. My best friend was a genius in Math – she couldn’t lose even a single mark, even if she tried. She was always, every single day, scorned for being friends with the rest of us ‘brainless idiots’. I mean, if teachers scorn the kids who are weak in their subject of expertise and keep focusing on kids who excel in it, what’s the use of being a “teacher”? I was the English teacher’s delight, but she had more allegiance to her colleagues (especially the Math and Biology teachers) and did her best to appear disinterested and disappointed in me for being no good in Math! Except for two of us, the majority of the gang were in the Biology teacher’s class…and owing to her allegiance to the Math and English teachers, she made life hell for those friends of ours.

Everyday, there was some punishment or the other. There was one insult or the other. There was one cutting remark (of mental prowess, lack of parental guidance, of all the kids in the world, why you) or the other. And, all of these made us more and more rebellious. We cared more about pissing these women off and ruining their days than about studying and scoring high marks in school. (On hindsight, I’m sooo not proud of this!) And thankfully, none of us ever failed in any exams. Subjects that we were weak in, we would still scrape by but never fail. Much to the chagrin of those teachers. And since we wouldn’t fail and they couldn’t demand that we bring in our parents, they finally came up with stories about how all of us were in relationships and those relationships were the sole reason we were turning up in school every day and how despicably wayward we were. We were 3 girls and 5 guys in the group. I’m surprised they didn’t say we were in multiple relationships! 😛 The Math teacher, my class teacher, called my parents to school once and blasted the living daylights out of them for bringing up a girl so badly, for being irresponsible parents and for letting their horrible daughter take their trust for granted. She told my parents I was in a relationship with my friend, who was an orphan and had no good means of living. This same woman who had hated my brother while he was in school, now praised him skyhigh and said “Why can’t your daughter be a bit like her brother at least? He was such a nice student, such a nice boy.” Hurt as they were, after a meltdown at home later that evening, my parents saw sense when I explained it all clearly. I even offered to call up the boy’s house and have my parents talk to his, for he was no orphan! And, the absolute surprise (followed by scorn and bellowing laughter) on my brother’s face at the praise he seemingly received seemed to explain more about the true colours of that teacher to my parents. And in stark contrast, my professors in the University absolutely loved me, and once called my parents to college during my final year. The previous time my teachers called my parents, it was a horrible day for them, so my Mom was sure she was in for another earful of abuse about her daughter. When the Head of my Department said “Your daughter is our true hope of a rank for our college”, my mother actually had a BP rise out of sheer surprise and sort of fainted! ROFL. 

In all this, within and outside of school I did have a lot of fun with my friends, but I’ll only remember those days for the fun I had with them and never for the school life that’s supposed to be some of the best times in a child’s life. It was fun we had DESPITE the school being so horrible. When I look back today, I’m not thoroughly pleased at how we rebelled, but at that point, that seemed the only sensible thing to do. I recently spoke to some of the more mellow, “good students” (esp in the eyes of these very horrible teachers), and none of them seem to look back at that school life fondly. I was only too glad to get out of there, never to go back. I’ve received a few Alumni meet invitations, but I turned down everyone of them. And, I will continue to do that. Sometimes, I do wish my parents had admitted me into some other school, but I guess I turned out the way I am because of all that the school threw at me. I may have scored higher marks in another school with less of this bullshit, but I may have been a completely different person today.

So, why did I go down memory lane with a long post about a school life I hated? Because the past week, as a 33-year-old, I went back to reading Malory Towers 😀 And nothing seems to have changed in the past 20+ years, for how I longed to be there! How I wished my school life had been simpler, more fun and more meaningful. How I wished I ha fabulous memories to share today. How I wished I had not been a student in my beastly school (and still see it as a place that did me no good and one I’d never return to) and had been to one that was at least half as fun as Malory Towers! How I wish my school-time memories were far more beautiful than they ever will be. And, how I wish the beastly women who taught in that school had taken up alternate careers that were faaaaaaar removed from teaching and schools and kids. Sigh.

Day 29: Me for him, or him for me?

I don’t know if he got it from me or if I got it from him,
but the clownishness was apparent from a very early age!

155564_455496736815_2218450_n

From finding joy in a laundry bag, as a puppy…

78393_464809276815_4898520_o

And quite literally growing out of it.

20140118_221048

To get on to beds and couches, and be in his hilarious and outrageous poses…

Pumbaa Nayar: The Clown of My Heart  ❤

I don’t know if he got it from me or if I got it from him,
the spirit of playing the fool, being utterly goofy, and still be joy of many lives!

dsc00108

Like packing himself in for a trip…

img-20150122-wa0014

…attempting a career in Accenture’s Security Team, trying to pass off with my id card!

img-20150101-wa0004

And mistaking a watch for a paw-cuff and staying absolutely still till it was taken off 😀

Pumbaa Nayar: The Joy of My Life  ❤

I don’t know if it was his decision or mine…
to be the keeper of all secrets, giver of much warmth,
be companion for days good and bad,
shouldering worries and wiping tears
and being the ultimate promise of love and togetherness.

Pumbaa Nayar: The Promise of Love & Togetherness  ❤

Day 28: Because you fight like a girl

This is for girls who stay up all night, this is for you who is willing to fight.
For hidden fears, hurt, pain and tears, under the smiles, laughs, and giggles we hear.
Let your hair down, straight or curls, you’re beautiful because you fight like a girl.
For girls who wear short skirts, and their heart on their sleeve,
for girls who know how difficult it is to believe.
The girls who scream and cry to the pillows and tell them their goals,
for girls who have a secret, but can’t tell a soul.
Let your eyes be your diamonds, make them your pearls,
you’re beautiful because you fight like a girl.
For girls who have made mistakes and have regrets galore,
for girls that may not win, but always get up from the floor.
The girls who take life as comes, the girl who have broken the code,
for the girls who hope, that they’ll get better somewhere down the road.
Let your steps be a dance and jump and do the swirl,
you’re beautiful because you fight like a girl.
For the girls who love with all their heart, although sometimes gets broke,
to girls who think it’s over, to real girls, all girls, who have tears to soak.
You throw, you pick up and fall.
But just tell the world
‘I’m beautiful, because I fight like a girl.’


These aren’t my words, they were penned by the one and only Shah Rukh Khan.
I thought they were absolutely lovely…

and they reminded me of these…penned by my very own Shah Rukh Khan 😉

She is strong, very strong: I have seen her go through hell and emerge triumphantly
both at work and life. At work, for no fault of hers, she was cornered, isolated, and bitched about.
She came out unscathed and stronger.
In life, she was put through hell and she came out wounded but stronger.

I’m a girl who made mistakes and have regrets galore, the one that did not win,
but definitely got up from the floor. The one who takes life as comes, the one who has always broken the code, the one that truly hopes to get better
somewhere down the road
.

.

P.S. I threw the diet out the window and destroyed the very thought of wanting to take on a diet…
because I fight like a girl,
and I won’t give into things that will stop me from taking life as it comes
(for, it always comes to me with Biriyani love)! 😀 

Day 27: Never in my life…

…have I ever taken on a diet plan. I have always eaten what I wanted to, never caring if it “showed” on me. I have my dad’s genes to thank for it, I guess. I have gained weight in the past, but that was when I sat at home, freelancing for nearly a year. And the maximum I gained was 5 kilos. I shed it as soon as I began going for work.

It was when I joined Accenture that I began hogging on Biriyani. It has always been my favourite food (and Pasta), and the only decent thing in the cafeteria was Biriyani. I worked an 11-8.30 shift, so I always had lunch in office (Biriyani every single day) and several days, I’ve known I’d be reaching home way too tired and brain dead, and have to continue work from there. Which meant, I’d either have a 7.45pm dinner (way too early for me, but Biriyani again), or get myself a parcel and go home. If I didn’t do either, I’d call the nearest place and order a Biriyani 😀

I did this for almost 2.5 years. Yes, I’m not kidding. It was Biriyani always, five days a week for lunch, and several times dinner as well — and if I was too lazy in the weekend to cook, Biriyani again!

By about a year into my Biriyani binging, my colleagues actually began believing in the possibility of there being a Diet Biriyani, because I was losing weight instead of gaining any! 😛

Several people (who were unaware of my Biriyani binging) would ask me how I managed to stay so fit, how much I worked out each day, which gym I went to, what foods I ate…and my colleagues would roar with laughter and say “This one!? She does nothing, except eat Biriyani everyday!” The Biriyani Diet became a thing!

I kid you not, people actually tried it. And bloated. And yelled at me for that! 🙄 Well, I was always very open about my fitness secret: Accenture + 2 dogs + Biriyani everyday: try it to believe it. They all failed because they only had Accenture + the Biriyani. The 2 dogs, only I had 😀 😀 But it was true. I did nothing else.

All was well in life. Till I reached Kuwait.

I was actually looking forward to all the Biriyani I’d eat here. My friends sent me off blessing me and asking me to popularise the famous Biriyani Diet of mine.

Only, the Biriyani here is not to my liking. It smells good, has a lot of “flavour”. Yet, scores a grand zero on taste as far as I am concerned. And, therefore, I haven’t eaten too many of it (maybe about 10 times in the past 8 months). And I have gained 4 kilos. Bah!

Never in my life have I ever taken on a diet plan. Never in my life have I even considered one. Till today. I’ve got to shed what I don’t like, want or need.

My lunch everyday is a plate of salad and a bowl of soup. And so, today afternoon as I polished off the salad, I decided I’m going to stick to salad/fruits only for dinner from today. And from the moment I took that decision, all I’ve been able to think of is dinner: having a Biriyani, or some fried rice, or just homely red rice with some aviyal and curds, or curd rice, or even god old kanji. Anything, as long as it is rice.

So, before I lost complete control, I went ahead and brought fruits. Apples, oranges, pears, guavas, pomegranates, bananas. And I bought enough to last me a week.

Now, I hate myself. Without finishing all these fruits, I won’t even be able to get back to my rice dinner. Bah, why do I do this to myself? I hate being on a diet 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦

And while we’re at it, this is all Kuwait’s fault – I hate Kuwait too! 🙄

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 24: I just noticed…

…how age is catching up with Khloe Nayar.

1

That’s her in 2013…

…with her ears and little head and her slender body a rich chocolate-y brown amid all that black and white, that I once did nibble at her thinking she’d taste like a Black Forest gâteau!

She was a princess, so regal in her ways. She was the lady her sister (that would be me) never could even dream to be! She had the charisma and grace of someone who was born into royalty and had it in her to be so. No one would look at her — in the way she walked, gazed at you or turned a blind eye to Calvin (who was head over heels in love with her) — and be able to make out she ever went through any kind of horrors in life.

Well, she took after her Godmother, the Queen and WIFE. She had to be a Princess!

She was only six then 🙂

.

3

This is she in 2016…

  …looking like she may have meddled with the bag of flour, sprinkling some healthy amount of it all over her. Well, her expression does say something of the sort may have happened! 😛 Fading away are the rich colours and hues of her once chocolate-y fur. And abundantly settling in are the grace and beauty of a life (being currently) well lived.

She is 10 now! 😐
Trust me, most times, we’re still trying to figure out what species she belongs to 🙄

There’s none of her Princess-ness anymore, so completely clowny in her ways. She’s every bit the tomboy that her sister (that would be me, again) loves being herself. She hops like a rabbit, gallops like a pony, runs like a deer and at times skitters like a lamb — when she is given one of her favourite treats. She flies like a sparrow, a short and quick flight that delivers her all the way from the couch in one end of the living room right in the kitchen that’s a good 10 steps away — when she knows her dinner is being taken off the fire. She jumps all over us, she whines like a lost child and she paws us furiously, not knowing her nails are digging into us — whenever we enter the house, leave without her, and eat our food without seeming to realise she’s waiting by our side for her share. Once in a while, she goes bonkers and flitters around the room like a butterfly, howl-barking at Pumbaa Nayar, and then absolutely freezing in weird poses with some bit of him in her mouth, jaw wide open, as if to say ‘this is your cue to run, boy!‘.

But most funniest of all is when she follows one of us into the kitchen, slowly but surely, like a tortoise — when she knows we’re in there, letting us us know we’re being watched, in case we think we can grab a bite without her knowing.

img-20160920-wa0003

This is she in her elements…

I just noticed how age is catching up with Khloe Nayar…
but ONLY in the colour of her hair fur 😛

I also just noticed, her name can be spelt and felt as
❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤   ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
Sigh! The power of a dog’s love!

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!

Day 20: The voice of my subconscious

When I wrote this post yesterday, I had a lot of questions kicking up a mini-storm in my head, derailing my otherwise logical thought process. When Varsh commented that if only we knew all the answers, life would be much less complicated, I told her travel was the answer to everything, especially if to somewhere in the Himalayan region 😉

Which is true, of course. But, when you are not all set for travel, there is another source for answers to these kinds of questions! And, that’s in Hobbes. If you follow Calvin and Hobbes, you’re probably nodding your head right now. Haven’t you wondered how Calvin always asks these philosophical, highly intriguing and seemingly rhetorical questions, only to have Hobbes respond with the simplest answers? Little surprise then, that the answer is in yourself 🙂 In the rare chance that you actually get it from another person altogether, then be assured that person is, in essence, your subconscious!

Anyway, after I posted this yesterday, I got well told off by my subconscious, who then sat me down and took those questions one by one.

Here are enlightenments from my subconscious (up for debate, though not for agreement, because my subconscious is mine own and might think and perform differently from yours for good measure)

Q: Reflections, when ugly, are never the mirror’s fault. It is the fault of the “object” and the “light” that reflects off it at a bad angle. But you do need the mirror to show that to you. Unless you choose to never look in the mirror. Is that wise, though?
A: Not at all. Though, if in your search for ugly reflections, you’re missing out on the beautiful ones, then you’re defeating the whole purpose of reflections and probably should stop it right away! Or, look for the beautiful ones instead and see how they weigh against the ugly ones. Whatever you do, make sure the outcome is a good one. Else, don’t attempt it. It gives you no returns in the long run.

Q: Looking back at the past and drawing lines to the present…is that a good thing to do? Does reflecting on the past and regretting not acting on a certain intuition then…make it sensible to consider that decision now?
A: Yes, it is a great thing to do to help you spot potholes from afar and steer away from them. But unless the people, situations and feeling are the exact same now as they were then, that decision from then is irrelevant in the now. It’s got to be a fresh, well thought out one that will consider and help you brace against impact from all angles.

Q: Are intuitions any good, or is it just a fancy term for a comparison at different levels? Are they just bad feelings to brush off with Hope and Faith, or are they things needing serious thought?
A: Intuitions are good, to be listened to. They’re not fancy or to be brushed off at any time. Please, always listen. Never walk into something you have doubts about. If you’re not convinced, don’t do it.

Q: How much, what kind and when is it OK to forgive? If you cannot forget, what’s the point in forgiving, when memory serves to rekindle the same feelings many times over? How genuine, then, is that forgiveness…and how fruitful?
A: If it didn’t include physical abuse/violence and deliberate false accusations/character assassination, the rest could be considered forgivable. This is a matter of personal choice, of course. But broadly, if it is in someone’s character to accept fault and be corrected, then they deserve that chance at forgiveness. But, just one chance. It’s good to not forget, because if life slaps you in the face again, you know what and how you survived previously. It makes you stronger, wiser. Forgetting something is not in anyone’s immediate control, but the forgiveness can be truly genuine if it is from the heart, with no unhealthy intentions…and highly fruitful in salvaging a lot that matters in life.

Q: How can you weigh the unknown repercussions of your decisions against your future happiness? What if your intuition fails you and you don’t take what could have been the best decision of your life?
A: Everyone knows the answer to this 🙄 It’s the future we’re talking about! Don’t, and you can’t, plan it.

Q: How trustworthy can today’s promises be, when tomorrow is a whole new day?
A: Go ahead and trust – it will do you good. It does make you vulnerable, yes, but not if you’re in the right hands. So, before you call on your heart and trust someone (again), call on your mind and make that smart assessment of whose promises will be kept and whose will not. But please, do trust. For people cannot rip open their hearts and show you that they mean it – they can only tell you and hope for your trust.

Q: Does anyone know how the scalded cat, that feared even cold water, finally got over its fear? Is fear a good reason to not believe?
A: Well, this is a secret of my species; I’m not really allowed to divulge it to your kind. But for you, and only for you, I shall. We just got thirsty. Think about it…if we relied on fear as a good reason to believe that water (in all forms) was going to burn us, we’d have all died of thirst and become extinct. So, no – fear is never a good reason to not believe; fact is.

Q: In an attempt to stay positive, is it wise to brush the unknown, unexpected and unhappy under the carpet?
A: No. Well, the unknown and unexpected are not in your control. The unhappy, however, is. Goes a little back to the first question, really. But if the attempt to stay positive is supported by fact, faith, trust and hope, then maybe (just maybe) brush it under for now. Because, there will always be an opportunity to lift that carpet and clean it up for good.

Q: How late is too late?
A: It’s never too late, for anything. No decision you take is the final decision of your life, unless it is to take your life itself. Which I, as your subconscious, will never let you do: because your life is mine too…and I am, because you are.

If there is one thing I’m grateful for in life, it is my subconscious 🙂 What would I do without you!?

Day 16: Go Set A Watchman

This is not a book review. I’m terrible at writing book reviews, so I shall not.

This is about the feeling I was left with when I’d finished the book. And for once, I can’t find the right words to express them.

To Kill A Mocking Bird shall always remain in my Top 5 favourites. The reason I loved TKAMB was because I identified a lot with Scout and loved her. I was also a huge fan of Atticus. But mainly, Scout. The tomboy that she was. The way her brother was her best friend. The way her father was no nonsense, yet loving. The way she was always with boys.

So, when I picked this one up, I was prepared to not like it enough. I had believed the reviews fellow readers gave. I’d played down my expectations and was ready to turn the last page over and think “Just did not do justice to the first one”.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I loved Go Set A Watchman for a lot of different reasons, Scout and Atticus being the prime ones. I shall not list them all here because I honestly don’t know how to word those, and I won’t do any justice.

All I know is, I loved the experience of reading this book. I read and re-read some portions because the sheer awesomeness brought tears to my eyes. I sat with a pencil and marked out some really touching parts. I read a certain bit and hugged Pumbaa tight. I typed out a particular bit and texted that to my brother. I thought back to my childhood and smiled fondly. I missed Achan a lot – a LOT. I felt immense gratitude to my parents for bringing me up the way I was brought up. I wanted to curl up inside the book and be at peace ❤

I will always love it for the many pearls of wisdom I picked out and stowed away in a far corner of my mind. I’ll leave you with these…

The Lord never sends you more than you can bear.

This helps me have that bit of extra faith to stop me from giving up…

Sometimes we have to kill a little so we can live.

…and this convinces me that while to err is human, to forgive can also be human; it doesn’t always take divinity.

Because finally,

…every man’s watchman, is his conscience.