365 days in Kuwait

It was on 18 March, 2016, that I got on a Kuwait Airways flight, bidding goodbye to the few things I held dear to me in Bangalore. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t miss Bangalore much.

And I was right. All I missed of Bangalore (and how!) were my two tail-wagging angels, one whose angel I was, the dear brother and the lush-lush greens and lovely colours of my lovely (rented) house garden. Trust me, nothing more. I’ll get to that later.

Though I say these were all I missed, these were the very essence of my life, and leaving them behind was not easy. Uprooting yourselves from a place you’ve called ‘home’ for  over 8 years–and a country you’ve lived your entire life until then–to move to a new place for a new job and a new way of life can’t ever be easy.

It was not. Especially not in a place like Kuwait.

What can I say about Kuwait? Well, perhaps the same thing I keep telling people who ask me how I like it. That it’s not a bad place at all. That in fact, it is quite nice (contrary to the many stories I was ‘warned’ with, prior to my accepting the offer and moving over).

Just that it isn’t a place you want to be alone in. So, what’s there to like?

  1. Well to start with, there is a beach around almost every corner. How many times have I gone to one in the past 365 days? Once.
  2. This is a foodie’s paradise. Name any cuisine and you have authentic and spurious versions of both, across all price ranges. How many have I tried? Well, very few (those too, only as part of my job).
  3. This is a fashion lover’s heaven. Brands I’ve only read of in books/seen in movies, I see all over the place here. Clothes, shoes, bags, accessories… How many have I walked into? Very few, and for obvious reasons.
  4. There are quite a few “places to see”, which can keep you busy for at least a month, if you were to do one every day. How many have I done? Perhaps five.

These obvious stuff apart, if you have the will and the time, there is A LOT that Kuwait offers to keep you occupied and interested.

There’s theatre, there’s music, there’s art, there’s all kinds of community clubs and events, there’s a variety of sports, there are many museums, there are frequent concerts, there are shows and cultural/food festivals…there’s  just a lot one can do. And for the travel lover, great connectivity (and affordable travel) to a plethora of places, especially to several that are on top of my list!

Yet, so far, I’ve only done the music. Because while time is all I’ve had aplenty, I have not yet had the will. Don’t ask me why.

I spent a good part of the past year deliberating on whether or not I’m here to stay. Well, when I decided to move here, I’d come with a three-year plan. But within a few weeks of being here, I was very tempted to covert the 3-year to a 3-month plan 😀 But now, all that’s about to change. And for the good, I hope. The three-year plan is back…and is probably now a 5-year one.

And that will mark the end of my “life” in Bangalore, leaving me with absolutely nothing to miss about Bangalore anymore. Not the traffic; not the pollution; not the roads; not the fiery lakes; not (some of) the most horrible people I’ve come across in life. It was a place I first saw around the turn of the Y2K (anyone even remember that whole end-of-the-world is here phase? :P) It was a place I then went back to in 2005 and realised I was still in love with. It was a place I permanently moved to in 2007 and then hated for the next few years…and then when all else seemed lost, started liking again in 2012. It’s a place that I began looking at sadly as a classic example of “how to destroy an awesome city.”

It will always be a familiar place…a place where some of the best and worst things of my life happened. I hope, with Kuwait, that order reverses. I started off here in the wake of the worst year of my life 😛 About time it all became the best, and with no turning back.

About time I saw Kuwait with a whole new pair of eyes and a whole new heart! Oh, and two very happy tails!

Can’t wait! ❤

 

It’s snowing in here!!!

I love December. What’s not there to like? It’s the Friday of months! 🙂

I love the nip in the air. What’s not there to like? It’s that time when you’re not so cold that you need warm clothes, but you’re cold enough to want to hug yourself when you walk in the open.

I love the whole ‘end of year’ and ‘holiday’ season feel. What’s not there to like? Work pressure is less, people are always discussing upcoming holidays and there is generally talk of gifts, parties, presents and much friends-and-family love!

I love the colour, glitter and joy of the Christmas-y feel all around. What’s not there to like of all the reds-and-whites-and-greens around; the sparkly, beauteous gift boxes in every shop window; the sight of Santas and reindeers and lovely, snow-sprinkled Christmas trees decorated like a dream; the winter coats and woollen hats and happy scarves.

I love the Secret Santa games. What’s not there to like? It’s fun, it’s knowing someone just a little better, and all the guessing and wailing and cheering!

I love the carols that automatically start wafting out of every third house on the street. What’s not there to like? It’s the happiest kind of music, and it doesn’t matter if you’re not following that certain religion!

❤ Most of all, I LOVE THAT IT SNOWS on my blog! ❤
It brings me such joy, I cannot explain it. I went YAY the first December of this blog on WordPress – that was 8 years ago. Since then, every year in December, I’ve gone YAY when I logged in here. Till I went on a hiatus and completely forgot about it. Today, I logged in (purely force of habit formed in the past 30 days :P) and went “Whoaaaa snowwww! YAY it’s first of December on WordPress!” A colleague, totally bemused, pointed out that it was December 1 in most parts of the world, not just on my blog. Pfffft. What does she know! 🙂

In my current state of happiness, let me leave you with this…one I learnt of recently, thanks to my carols practice sessions 😉

It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

 

AND, TODAY IS A TOTALLY HAPPY DAY FOR ME! Yay, yay, yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
*Mental somersaults, mental high-fives, mental jigs, and full-on hop-skip-and-jump joy*

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 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!

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

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And quite literally growing out of it.

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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!

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Like packing himself in for a trip…

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

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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 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 21: The weather today…

is so good, all I want to do is be home, amidst all my (imaginary) plants, looking out on to the (imaginary) greenery from my bedroom.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is be home, enjoying the silence, before I plug in this song (which has been playing on loop since the morning) and go on a long, long stroll along the paved walkway, bordered on both sides by (imaginary) tall green trees!

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is be home, lie on my (imaginary) lawn, resting my head on (imaginary) Pumbaa, reading Go Set A Watchman again.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is be home, sit in my (imaginary) balcony and watch the lovely (imaginary) birds and beautiful (imaginary) butterflies playing dancing in the cool breeze.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is be home, sit on the (imaginary) steps at my door, held in a warm hug by the (imaginary) love of my life.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is play some of my forever favourite songs on the (imaginary) sound system, singing along and feeling content.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is cook those things I love cooking in my big, airy (imaginary) kitchen.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is chatter non-stop with my (imaginary) Amma, as I sip on hot tea and munch on the amazing (imaginary) pazhamporis she keeps serving hot.

The weather today is so good, all I want is to be really home, in a place that is truly home.

The weather today is so good…and all I’ve got is Kuwait! 🙄 Everything else is just truly imaginary and in two faraway places: one a haven in Bangalore, the other a heaven in Trivandrum! 🙂 Sigh.