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 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 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.

Day 18: The one that stuck to the plan

Once up on a time, there were two little girls who met in school. They sat next to each other on the front bench in class. Both of them did not know what prompted it, but neither thought twice about starting a friendship.

One was studious, the other didn’t care. One was sober and soft-spoken, the other was a rebel. One was a total girl, the other wasn’t. Yet, none of these ever came in the way of their friendship. Because there was a common love that ruled over everything else. The love for books, and the shared joy from reading the same ones. Together, they devoured the books in the school’s tiny library. Most weeks, once the library hour was over, the librarian had to shoo them out to make way for the next batch! So, they went to public libraries and devoured more books. They discussed their reading list and constantly exchanged books and experiences.

As the months went by, in one of the conversations, they both decided they would grow up to be a writer and and a published author! This, then, remained a constant through the rest of their days together. “When I become an author…” was a frequent way to start one of their never-ending discussions.

A whole year went by. And then one moved away to a new city, when her father was transferred there. The friendship continued, strong as ever…for both were aspiring writers, and write they did! Long letters, written neatly and laboriously over many pages, kept them both updated on what the other was up to. In time, however, other friends walked into their lives. Priorities and situations changed, and the letters became far and few between.

Till one day, three years later, a letter arrived from the one who moved away: she was moving back into town, and joining back at the same school! Much joy and anticipation, till school began after the long summer break! Only, there were now other friends in the picture, and they were no longer even in the same class, forget sitting next to each other. The bond had evolved over time, into one that would remain, but not as close as it once was. The only thing that did not change: love for books, and the promise to be an author one day.

Both completed school and went their separate ways again, entering the job market. One was thrilled with the designation at her first job, and jumped it joy when she got her first visiting card that said she was a “Writer.” She remembered her friend and wondered what she’d say to this. The other went on to become an Engineer.

Many year passed.

The one that began her career as a writer, did not stay writer for too long, except dabble on her blog, even today. The one that became an engineer, although also dabbled with blogging, stuck to the plan. And is a published author today! 🙂

ramya

So proud of you, girl! 🙂

In her own words…

There is no feeling quite like seeing your name in print for the first time- It is a queer mixture of pride, disbelief and elation! Writing has been a long journey of learning and self-discovery, and as I finally take the leap from being a writer to being a published author, I have only my lovely family, friends and awesome readers to thank!