Tag Archives: positive

A Day in the Life of the Unemployed

The novelty of moving to a new place has quickly worn off and I realize we are still unemployed albeit in a different part of the world. The days seem to bleed into one another. It doesn’t matter if it is a Monday or a Friday. Only weekends seem different, with the kids around. The rest of week sees us following pretty much the same routine. For me, my day starts with the alarm at 6.00. I rush into the kitchen to pack lunch for the kids. I set the cereal and milk on the table for breakfast. Then I keep screaming the time out, to make the kids hurry. Followed by banging on the bathroom door to get them out or screaming up the stairs to get them down.  I see them off at the door and then the house becomes incredibly quiet.

After all that excitement I settle down in front of my computer and compulsively check my e-mail, junk mail and spam for mails from prospective employers. Disappointment washes over me when I find nothing and then I go to social media to take my mind off it. After breakfast, a renewed vigor comes over me and I start sending out resumes to half a dozen companies. On some days there are no new jobs posted and I slip into despair wondering if I will ever work again. By noon I am spent and resign myself to the fact that I probably won’t hear from half of the companies I applied to. I cook lunch and eat it quietly. A weariness comes over me as I think of the whole evening spread before me. I curl into bed with a book to again escape from my cruel mind and the horrible stories it tries to feed me.

The kids return from school and suddenly the sleepy house wakes up. Battle over the computer and who gets first dibs. Piles of homework to be done. After school activities have to wait and I’m clouded with guilt when I see kids marching off to karate in their stiff uniforms or carrying violin cases down the stairs. If it is a Friday and the weather is good we end up playing tennis together.

Weekends are hard because I know I won’t hear from any employer till Monday. It’s also hard to stay hopeful and cheerful in front of the kids when despair is eating at your heart. Sometimes I snap at them in frustration and they wonder what they did to get on my bad side. But on most days I play the part well. Every grocery trip, every trip to the gas station, I know we are dipping into our savings. As our bank account shrinks, the number of days spent unemployed grows and grows and there is this huge chasm in my resume that I could slip in to any day.

Social live is nil. Who wants to admit to perfect strangers that one is not working? How can you admit your brokenness and then expect to make friends? Like water finds its own level when poured into containers, people also reach for others at their level or above. Everyone has their own problems, who wants to take on another’s!

Hope is my only reprieve and also this responsibility I have to my children. If I give up too easily, how can I lecture them about trying hard and not giving up when they fail? So here I am, back at the computer, applying for jobs and trying to stay upbeat even though every part of me is exhausted by this constant search for something in the distance. Something seemingly unattainable and yet so close I can touch it.

I know in spite of it all I am lucky. There are unemployed people out there who are hurting, there are people who woke up and saw their life’s earnings disappear in the face of demonetization. People on food stamps and people living meager existences in different parts of the world.

So this holiday season as you go on vacations, shopping sprees and holiday parties remember there are some amongst you who will be staying home just wishing they had the means to provide for their families. Pray for them, send them your good vibes and if possible give them something in kind.

15 Days of Gratitude

I have tried over the past several years to do this 30 days of gratitude thing in the month of November but never before have I gotten this far. I thought I’d run out of things to be grateful for but I was wrong. The more grateful you are, the more you will have to be grateful for. Does that makes sense? Read on and maybe you can start your own gratitude list. It’s never too late and it doesn’t have to be November!

Day 1

I am thankful for the chance to start our life over in the U.S.A.

Day 2

I am thankful for my own beautiful space to think and be

Day 3

I am thankful for my tribe of sisters who have stood with me through thick and thin. Dedicating the upcoming posts to each one of them.

Day 4

I am thankful for my dear friend Shoms who has been around since the day I was born and continues to be there for me, pray for me and guide me (she even secretly follows me around all over the globe!) I love you and I’m eternally grateful that God put you in my life.

Day 5

I am thankful for my soul sister Namami who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself and pushed me to be the best version of myself through her wonderful example. So so thankful that our paths crossed.

Day 6

I am thankful for my little sister Gayatri who has shown such courage, hardwork, discipline and perseverance over the past several years. She is not afraid to chase her dreams and has inspired me to do the same. Love you to the moon and back and you are such a blessing in my life.

Day 7

I am thankful for my little sister Latha who reminded me to practise gratitude when I really needed to and who egged me on to finish my book. Thank you for being there for me.

Day 8

I am thankful for Hema who went out of her way to help me when I was in India struggling to keep my head above the water. She gave me hope, her husband helped my husband secure an interview and she still keeps checking on us and praying for us. Thankful for angels like her in my life.

Day 9

Today I am thankful for my children Anjali and Nitin who see humor in even the most solemn situations, who remind me to laugh and let me see that life is not about the big things but about the littlest of things – a warm hug, a snuggle, a giggle or breaking into a song or dance. Love you both to the moon and back.

Day 10

I am thankful for my parents who have always been there for me no matter what and who have shown me that being a parent doesn’t mean being perfect but trying to do your best in every situation. Love you both very much and wishing you a very happy anniversary and many more to come.

Day 11

I am thankful for our friends Raghu and Swastika who have been so helpful during this time. For being patient and taking the time to help us sort out stuff. We miss being neighbors with you and hope we meet again soon.

Day 12

I am thankful for good food on my table and for above average cooking skills.

Day 13

I am thankful for my brother Dinesh who has been around since I was 2 1/2 and has grown up to be an dashing young man. I’m thankful for the crazy times we had together making up jokes and laughing till the wee hours of the morning. I’m thankful for your unique and deep insights when I most need them. Most of all I’m thankful for your support through really tough times when I felt alone in the world. Love you and wish you have a very happy birthday and many more to come.

Day 14

I am thankful for children, not just my own, but the many I have come in contact with over the years through teaching and volunteering in schools. Their innocence, lack of guile and unconditional love always leave me speechless. If you are weary of this world, simply spend a day with a child and see your joy rising and hope returning to your cynical life. Thankful for all the little yogis and tiny Zen masters of the world. Happy Children’s Day!

Day 15

I am thankful for my brother Rohit for being my body gaurd in the streets of Chennai and for always being protective of me. We have laughed endlessly, shared our burdens and teased each other mercilessly. Even though he is far away, I know he cares and will do anything for me. And for that I am deeply grateful.

My Big Secret – Part 2

I think I left you hanging long enough. So here is my second big secret. If you have been following my blog for the past year, you know of my big move to India and all the trials and travails that followed. It wasn’t as easy move after spending 13 years of my married life in the U.S. And my husband being unemployed did not help matters either. Add to that the education system which came as a complete shock to my kids and me. The fact that I did not have my own space or freedom made matters worse. So after much deliberation (mostly on my part) we decided to move back to the U.S.

In a week I will be moving with my family. You could say I am escaping, running away because I am too weak to face the challenges life has thrown at me. But I am just returning. Returning to a familiar place that I have come to call home. Where I have the freedom to be the person I want to be and not feel guilty about it or be ostracized for it. For those who think I am weak, let me tell you that I faced these challenges for a year using all my strength, faith and all the support I could garner. But at some point I had to admit to myself that things are not working out as planned and that I would never be truly happy here. And that somewhere along the way I ceased to belong to this place. Since this is my big reveal, I won’t go into the challenges I faced in Chennai in detail. That is material for a whole new post.

We have been moving every year since 2014 and this time I intend to put down roots, put my foot down and cement myself in North Carolina. For the next several years my kids need the stability of attending one school and growing up with friends they care about. As for me, I am tired of packing and giving away stuff and moving like a freaking nomad.

For the record, I lived in the same city for 23 years of my life, attended the same school from kindergarten to 12th grade. I attended college and university in the same city and had friends I knew from the cradle! I think my kids deserve a little bit of that too.

If you are reading this, please know that it isn’t as easy as it looks – hauling your family half way across the globe and then back in a year. We don’t have jobs waiting for us. We have to buy everything from furniture to vehicles and insurance. It is scary, but less scary than having to live in Chennai for another year without jobs. America isn’t called the land of opportunity for nothing! So I beseech you to keep us in your prayers as we make this move and settle down. Thank you and wishing you a lot of success if you are making big changes in your life. I will leave you with this quote I saw on Facebook yesterday that really resonated with me – If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree. (Jim Rohn)

End of the Tunnel

I am the light at the end of the tunnel. I am my own savior. My spirit ran ahead to beam the light of hope as my weary body and mind struggled to catch up. It was this light that kept me alive as the piercing darkness around me spilled into my soul. The tunnel was akin to a birth canal, squeezing every lie, facade and mask that I ever wore. Squeezing all my pompous notions of being above it all. Thinking I had reached the peak of spirituality, I refused to budge. But I slid quickly from the summit into a dark endless cavern where I stayed until I came to terms with my own foibles. There were no milestones and even if there were, I couldn’t see them. I wasn’t even sure if I was blind or it was too dark to perceive anything. I may have had my eyes closed, afraid of what I would encounter if I opened them. Somewhere along the way when it was too painful to grope in the dark I simply lay down in a heap and slept. The darkness of sleep more soothing than the one that I could not escape when I was awake.

Was I alone in the tunnel? I could not tell. But I could sense a presence. A warmth. A glimmer of hope from somewhere afar. It was towards this that I floundered like a thirsty animal in a desert. The squeezing and extraction of all extraneous baggage continued until I felt like I was stripped naked. But instead of feeling self-conscious and embarrassed I felt free. I was exposed and I no longer needed to play the games I played before to keep a bunch of lies alive or to please people. This is when my eyes that were accustomed to darkness spotted a faint flicker far far away. Now I knew I wasn’t imagining the warmth. It was coming from this source. As I edged closer it felt warmer, loving, compassionate and all -embracing. It was me I found at the end of the tunnel waiting and shining like a beacon. I had just birthed a swanky new version of myself. Pure, free and full of child-like hope.

When I stepped out, I saw more like me shining and waiting to receive themselves. But like the indistinguishable darkness, our light merged and blurred our individual bodies. You might think I’m out of my mind and in a way you are right. Thoughts travel faster than the speed of light. Our soul knows where we are going and even when our bodies falter, the soul charges ahead unafraid.

Maybe Sri Aurobindo’s words would make more sense to you than mine. So I leave you with this excerpt from the Savitri.

Even through the tangled anarchy called fate

And through the bitterness of death and fall

An outstretched hand is felt upon our lives

It is near us in unnumbered bodies and births;

In its unslackening grasp it keeps for us safe

The one inevitable supreme result

No will can take away and no Doom change.

 

My Big Secret – Part 1

This is big! Most of my feelings, thoughts and life experiences end up in my blog. However, this big secret I have kept from you for over a year now. It all started quite innocuously while I was still in Washington. I had landed this long-term subbing position at an elementary school while we were contemplating moving to India in the summer. One morning I walked into the classroom to find all the 4th graders (usually a groggy and unfocused lot) chatting excitedly and poring over some picture books. I turned to the teacher with a quizzical expression on my face and she smiled and said, ” It’s author day today. A local author will be coming in to talk to the children about what it is like to be a writer.”

I didn’t quite know what to expect, but was happy for the kids who were going to get a break from their regular school day routine. The whole school assembled in the cafeteria/auditorium and a man in his late thirties or early forties took the stage. His name was Paul Lewis and he wrote children’s books. Paul never thought he would be an author. He loved to draw and paint when he was in school but his career didn’t start out as an illustrator or writer. Paul used to be a substitute teacher in Washington and one day he went to a school and guess what? It was author day! By this time I was sitting up straight and really paying attention.

To cut a long story short, Paul connected with the author who encouraged him to use pictures to tell a story and then come up with the words. This was easy for Paul because pictures came easily to him. Pretty soon he had a picture book and published it.

We had to break for lunch and I stood around wondering if I should go talk to him. You see, I had been walking around with a book inside me for several years now. A book about Dadima and this was the ultimate wake up call. Big nudge from the universe. Call it what you want. But it couldn’t be a coincidence. It was as if Paul was talking to me. I was a substitute attending author day at a school, like he did several years ago. Talk to him, my inner voice was saying. But my nerves got the better of me and I quietly walked to the lunch room and proceeded to eat my lunch.

A few seconds later the door opened and Paul walked in. He pulled up a chair at the table where I was sitting. The universe was really shoving it in my face today! I started talking to him and told him about my book and he was quite chatty and helpful. I really don’t remember much of what he said but I do remember him saying not to become a writer just to get famous or rich and to just do it for the sake of the craft.

My subbing gig ended in a few weeks and I was busy posting stuff to sell on Craig’s List. I spent most of my time on the computer replying to e-mails from potential buyers. But I still had a lot of time on my hands. That was when I started writing my book (April 2015). I figured if I could write a chapter of 1000 words and wrote 10 chapters in all, I’d have a 10,000 word manuscript ready in say a year or so.

I started in earnest and finished nearly four chapters before we relocated to India. Another four chapters were done over the course of the year and early 2016. Then I got busy with my job and never really got around to finishing the last two chapters. My dear friend S kept egging me on to finish it and I typed up the last three chapters (I added another chapter) by the end of July.

I wasn’t sure what to do with the book now that it was written. Do I publish it? How do I go about it? No clue. Two days after I wrote the book a friend suddenly mentioned my grandma out of the blue and told me she loved reading stories about her. I told her she was in for a surprise as I had just finished writing a book on my grandma! She wanted to pre-order  the book. Another sign, this time telling me to get the book published.

Later that week I attended a book launch at the Odyssey book shop and then another the subsequent week. And then a contact on Facebook launched her book of short stories in Malayalam. Really got me thinking about publishing my book. So that’s my big secret – that I wrote a book and might publish it. I have no clue how I could have been tight-lipped about it for so long. Would you read it? Would you like an e-book or paperback? Do share your ideas. Without you and this blog I never would have in a thousand years attempted to write a book. So thank you dear readers and watch this space for more about my journey through the publishing world.

There is another big secret I have to reveal and it is totally unrelated to this one so I’ll save it for the next blog post – My Big Secret – Part 2.