All posts by DC

The Best Job in the World

The other day while surfing channels I chanced upon a news story that made me stop. A janitor was cleaning floors at a school and the reporter was saying that we shouldn’t judge a person by the work they do. And yet I had made a lot of assumptions about this silver-haired person with a mop in his hand. Uneducated, poor, can’t afford to retire were some of the things that crossed my head. I was in for a shock when the reporter revealed that the unassuming janitor was actually part of a team of engineers that sent astronauts to the moon!

So what was he doing cleaning floors for a living? He had suffered a stroke which impaired his cognitive memory. So the former electromagnetic engineer had to give up his career of choice and took up a job as a janitor to stay  healthy and keep himself occupied. In the process he has struck quite a rapport with the students, who love hearing about his mission to the moon and give him hugs and high-fives.

When posed with this tricky question, “Would you go back to your old job if you got your cognitive memory back?” the former engineer said that he loved his job and would not trade it for anything. “These kids say – I love you and thank you – not something I heard from NASA as far as I can remember,” said the old man.

Watching this reminded me of my short stint as a teacher and being associated with children and schools in any capacity. The pay wasn’t that great but I loved every minute of it. Kids are unpretentious and genuine. It is a gift to work with them and for them. After that it is always difficult dealing with adults.

Hugs, laughter, games, cards, and flowers are given freely to show you that they care. I remember when I had to leave a long-term substitute position because I was moving (story of my life!), the whole class made cards for me and I had only worked with them for a month! If the schools in my county did not require substitutes to complete a mandatory training, I very well would still be working in a school. I look back at those days and see all those innocent faces, the laughter, the tears, the skinned knees, the hugs and the sweetest compliments, and it warms my heart more than a fat pay check or a promotion.

I feel incredibly grateful that the universe gave me the opportunity to work with children, to touch their lives and to be touched by their grace, beauty, wisdom, genuine love and affection.

When You Don’t Let Go

Old story. But you need to hear it again so I can set the stage for what I’m about to relate. Three years ago my family decided to move to India after living in the U.S. for nearly 13 years. I was quite optimistic about jumping continents. After all, I had spent all of my childhood and some adult years in India and it wasn’t like we were walking into the unknown. We were pretty sure we’d live happily ever after in India. So we simply sold all of our stuff or gave it away. We didn’t even consider putting it in storage.

Craig’s List was my friend. I spent most of my time posting stuff there, replying to emails from prospective buyers and arranging for them to come by and see/buy our stuff. Most of our furniture got sold pretty quickly. Then there was the sofa and love seat that we had owned for ten years. It was beige but did not have a single tear or stain on it. We had paid over $1000 for both of them. But no matter how much we slashed the prices, they wouldn’t sell. After posting in a Facebook group, the love seat finally got sold. But the sofa did not and it was the only piece of furniture left. We finally had to give it away for free.

When the couple that agreed to haul it away showed up, I was a little distraught. We had spent a lot on it, it was in excellent condition, and here we were simply giving it away for a song. I loved that couch. It was comfy, durable (my kids were babies when I got it) and elegant. My husband comforted me by saying we would get new furniture if we ever came back to the U.S.

And come back we did! One and a half years later with no jobs and no furniture. Recently, we moved to our own place and decided to get living room furniture, something we had put off because we were renting an apartment before and wanted something that would fit in our new space.

I had it all planned out. A blue and silver theme for the living room. A bluish silver sofa or love seat and accent chairs. I didn’t want both the sofa and the love seat and I definitely did not want beige! The boys wanted recliners and I vehemently opposed it. My daughter hated the designs I picked for the accent chairs. And guess what? Bluish silver sofas are extremely hard to find. There was a good deal on a sofa online and it happened to be the exact same sofa I had owned for 10 years! It came in several different colors, all of which I hated. So I refused to purchase it. The boys really wanted it but I refused to budge. Three months after our move, my living room was still bare.

Finally, after getting stiff from sitting on our dining room chairs and watching TV, we came to a consensus. They would get to buy the beige sofa online and I would get to choose the accent chairs. No questions asked and no veto privileges. Everyone liked the idea.

I came back home one day to see a beige sofa AND love seat in my living room, similar to the ones I had given away three years ago. I was upset. I had them for not one, not even five, but ten years. I really wanted something different but I had manifested the same sofa and love seat. What did I do wrong?  And then it hit me. I never really felt good about giving them away. Part of me was attached to them and not letting go completely did not allow me to make room for something new. My attachment to it brought back the exact same pieces to me even though on the surface I was looking for something completely different. Sounds familiar?

How many times do we say we are ready for something new but then end up attracting and settling for the same old thing over and over again. Think about it. The next time you want something new, make sure you have completely let go of whatever it is you didn’t want. No attachment, no regrets, no unhappiness, or you’ll end up with a big beige sofa and love seat that you gave away years ago and no place for accent chairs!

Enough is Enough

It should have happened right after Sandy Hook. It didn’t! Orlando? Nope! Maybe after Las Vegas. No, it didn’t! And I don’t think it will unless we make a big deal about it and don’t rest till real change happens. If we can bring down a Harvey Weinstein and a Larry Nassar with #MeToo then we can expose all those politicians who are shamelessly carrying on with the NRA. Those elected to serve the people are now serving the twisted agendas of groups that have the power to maintain the status quo by filling up the coffers of these spineless, greedy politicians. Lives don’t matter to them anymore.  The FBI gets a tip about the shooting and fails to investigate it. The government fails us over and over again. By ignoring our pleas for stricter gun laws. By not securing our schools.

These days anyone can walk into a school building. Why not lock the building and only allow access to authorized people, like offices do.  You have strict laws about underage drinking. You need an ID to purchase alcohol, but guns are given out like candy? And mind you not the kind of guns the early settlers carried but assault weapons that can fire 45 rounds per minute.

It took women to bring down vermin like Weinstein and Lassar and it looks like women are the answer to stricter gun laws. We might be docile and quiet, but anger us or threaten our children and you awaken the fierce lioness is us. The lioness who will stop at nothing to save her cubs. And it so happens that lionesses live in a pride and they come together to protect everyone.

All over the country we see moms coming together to condemn the high school shooting. We see high school kids come together to organize anti-gun rallies. Put them both together and what do you get? Walkout day organized by the same people that organized the women’s march. So the kids and the moms come together while the men (most of them) try to decide where their loyalties lie. With the NRA and guns that are a crutch to keep them safe or with families and communities that are their very life?

But one march won’t do. Signing petitions won’t do it. Believe me I signed plenty. A consistent, targeted, and sustained effort is required. We cannot back down or go back to our lives and forget all about it till the next shooting. We just can’t. We have to spread the word, inspire school administrators, parents and kids to take to the roads, call legislators and make them uncomfortable about supporting the NRA and their agenda to put more guns in the hands of Americans. More guns doesn’t mean more safety, it means more violence. Hopefully, more people wake up to this reality. Some people feel that violence will still plague our country, as people will find other ways to kill if guns are taken away. But this kind of large scale man slaughter can only be done with assault weapons. And no civilian needs those kind of weapons for self defense. A pistol or revolver will suffice. In my opinion even that is too much. I don’t think anyone has the right to kill another being.

As I look at the pictures of the victims, my heart bleeds for these lives that have been snuffed out way before their time. May we live in a world where mothers and fathers will never have to bury their young children, all victims of gun violence. May we live in a world where every life is cherished and peace lives in every heart. Where every mother can go about her day knowing her kids are safe.

So I’m Bossy Now

The other day my husband remarked, “Of late you’ve become so bossy.” I told him I was tired of being nice because I never got anything I wanted. The kids keep telling me to stop yelling and I’m like if I ask you nicely you just don’t do it,  so I have to yell to get you guys to listen to me. I’m just sick and tired of us women being told to be nice and quiet while every Tom, Dick and Harry steamrolls over us and hands us a cartload of patriarchal nonsense.

I stopped caring about what people thought about me and started thinking about me and what I need to be happy. I think it’s called taking charge, being in control. If you find me loud and obnoxious – I don’t care. Just like you didn’t care about anything I wanted or expected out of you!

When men do it, they are applauded for strength of character and leadership skills and when women so much as raise their voice they are bossy, intimidating and unlikeable. Well sorry! We’re done with the all cute and cuddly purring kitten types that are dripping honey and hanging on your every word. You stepped on our tails more than once and we’re lashing out with our teeth and claws.

You wax eloquent about your stressful day and how much you have accomplished while we straddle corporate careers and motherhood, cooking gourmet meals and coding and so much more that your testosterone-filled veins can handle for a day.  And yet WE are the fairer sex? The weaker ones needing your patronage and protection? Why don’t you hulks try birthing a child or nursing twins or even trying to fend off nausea for a week. Or maybe try, just try to make dinner every night after work.

So if I yell when I come home and the entire kitchen island is filled with everything you ate from breakfast cereal to tortilla chip crumbs and the sink is overflowing with dishes, its because I just finished my day job where I get paid and appreciated and now I’m at my second job that is thankless with no pay.

I don’t like microwave meals myself or I would have abandoned kitchen duties the day I started working full-time. Or stopped packing lunches for the kids and asked them to make do with the gross school cafeteria food. And with cooking comes mountains of dishes. I’m thankful for the dishwasher but unfortunately it doesn’t load itself. I don’t think it will kill anyone if they loaded the dishwasher every night after I was done making dinner.  Again everyone would rather I do it, till I make a scene and ask the kids to do their chores.

Then again why is dinner my responsibility ALWAYS! Why do chores have to be gender based? All of this churns through my psyche and makes me yell every once in a while. You have a choice to not cook or clean and I don’t? That really makes me yell dude! And since it’s my kitchen, it’s MY RULES. Obey or be prepared to be shredded to fine saw dust.

And  you can shove that unsolicited advice you know where! If you aint helping, I don’t need your suggestions for improvement. I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I think I qualify as an expert! So there you go. I’m bossy and unapologetic. They may promote me to a manager at work for my much sought after leadership skills!

 

Christmas in Florida

I miss Florida. Florida in the winter. Florida’s beaches. A particular friend who lives in Florida. So when P suggested we go to Florida, my joy knew no bounds. We decided to go visit our favorite haunts in Melbourne. The soccer fields where I spent many an evening while my son was at soccer practice. The Avenue at Viera which was right next to our apartment, where we went for morning walks, evening walks, window shopping, or eating out at one of its many restaurants. And finally to the beach – my happy place.

To break up our 9-hour drive, we made a pit stop at Savannah, Georgia. I had read about this place in the book, “Gone with the Wind” but had no idea it would be such a charming little Southern city. Each house is a piece of art with cast-iron fronts, gas-lit lamps on the porch, lush gardens tucked away in the back. Most of the buildings are from the 1800s and early 1900s. Almost every intersection has a park with a fountain in the middle, the most exquisite one was the Forsyth Park with water spouting mermen and  swans. The park also had a dummy fort converted into a visitor center with restrooms, and statues dedicated to confederate soldiers sprinkled all over the place. On River Street you could take a boat ride on the Savannah River, which we passed up for lunch at one of the many river side restaurants. We ordered salmon burgers, fried green tomatoes, shrimp salad on a croissant, and a southern medley platter with macaroni and cheese, orzo pasta, collard greens and mashed sweet potatoes. The last two were a bad choice. The collard greens were soggy and the sweet potatoes were goop. So much for eating my veggies! I asked for a bowl of mashed potatoes instead. Tummies full, we were ready for our 5-hour drive to Florida.

On our first day there, we reached the beach around sunset. I think the last time I went to a beach was 2 years ago in Chennai. I felt like a child seeing the beach for the first time. The sounds of the sea, the cool waves rushing and then slowly licking my feet, the sky painted in hues of orange, purple and grey, felt surreal. My heart exploded with joy and love and I told the ocean I loved her. I know it feels silly in hindsight but the ocean felt alive. I could feel her heartbeat and was held in rapture by her beauty. I turned around to walk along the wet markers made by the waves and I found a piece of coquina (soft limestone made of broken shells) . It was heart shaped and I felt like the ocean was telling me she loved me back. The kids splashed around in the water and I quietly walked along the edge of the waves, an indescribable peace washing over me.  When it got dark, we saw some people start bonfires and light tiki torches.  The smell of hot dogs cooking on a fire wafted towards me and made me hungry. We grabbed some pizza for dinner and headed back to our room for some shut eye.

On Christmas eve, we met our old friends from Florida for a day at Brevard Zoo. The zoo was just 5 minutes from our apartment when we lived in Melbourne and had a zoo membership, so we were there almost every weekend. The kids knew most of the animals, especially the talking hyacinth macaw that kept yelling, “cracker” or “back to work”. There were a few new exhibits and one of them was a kangaroo trail where you could have a close encounter with a kangaroo.  I must say that the board outside explicitly warned us but I chose to ignore it. The most dangerous thing at the zoo as far as I knew was the bird feeding exhibit where noisy lorikeets would land on your shoulders and arms. So I thought these people knew what they were doing when they opened the kangaroo walking trail. When I stepped in, there were a bunch of people being entertained by a small kangaroo with a zoo keeper in close proximity. How dangerous could this be? We joined the raggle taggle crowd and stood with our backs glued to the fence that separated all the other kangaroos from us.  The little marsupial started off by sniffing our feet and then chewing on my son’s shoe laces. Then it moved to my husband’s shoelaces and then it started tugging at his cargo pants. The zoo keeper lady intervened and shooed it away. It then started sniffing my sandals and lifted its head and held onto my thighs at which point I freaked out. I tried to shrug the thing off but it took offence and bit me on my knee and scratched my thigh when I was turning away. Big mistake! It saw my bag with its shiny sequins and grabbed onto it. I was screaming and trying to run away while this creature was pulling my bag and me from behind. It felt like I was running but getting no where. The zoo keeper somehow got it off of me and then we all decided to leave. Our friends had little children under 5 and I felt like it was really dangerous for them to be there.

The young ones were getting hungry so we had some lunch and then headed to the mall. It was a gorgeous 80 degrees and we sat by the fountains and chatted away while the kids rolled on the fake grass and had a ball. Around 4 we headed to the beach. The two toddlers decided to bury themselves in sand and we stopped them right when they were half buried. We then took a long walk along the beach and the kiddos got wet and then proceeded to roll in the sand. It took my friend a while to get them both washed up and out of their sandy clothes. We all stood talking in the parking lot because we didn’t want the day to end. But we knew we had a long trip ahead of us so we reluctantly said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel.

On our way back we stopped in Savannah again and ended up eating overpriced pizza in a hole-in-the-wall pizza shack (sorry that place cannot be called a restaurant!) We forgot that most places are closed for Christmas. It was too cold to stroll around and I just wanted to go home and eat something that was home cooked. Our short and sweet Florida vacation was over but I will hold onto the memories of the beach and the time we spent  with our friends for a long time to come.  So long Florida and I hope we meet again soon!