Punctuate Life

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Driving Miss DC…

How some of us take driving for granted! An article in Reader’s Digest about a Saudi woman who couldn’t drive (like all women in Saudi) got me thinking of the time I couldn’t drive. No, I didn’t ever set foot in Saudi Arabia. I lived most of my life in India, where my grandma’s driver drove me to school and back or I carpooled with my best friend G. When I got older my Dad took over. He used to drop me off at my office and then head to work. In the evening I simply walked, took a bus or an auto ( a 3-wheeled vehicle with a hood and a meter – cheaper option than a taxi). Driving was never a necessity. My mom never learnt to drive and my grandma had a driver. But my grandma wanted me to learn to drive. I scoffed at her saying I didn’t own a car.(Vanity! What else can I say?) She insisted that I should but I never heeded her advice. Oh how I regretted it! Not when I was in India, but when I got married and moved to the U.S. of A.

In the U.S. unless you live in a big city, you can’t really rely on public transportation. One is pretty much homebound without a driver’s license. Add kids and biting cold winters to the equation and the picture gets pretty bleak! Most brides from India get busy getting their licenses or applying for jobs. I couldn’t apply for a license without an SSN and my visa did not permit me to work in the U.S. It was a dependent visa and that pretty much described my situation. Three months after I got to the U.S. I was pregnant with my first child. Severe nausea kept me in bed most of the day. I couldn’t step out of the house. I was afraid to go grocery shopping (what if I threw up all over the meat section?). I was afraid to go to my neighbor’s apartment (what if I threw up all over her carpet?). Driving was the last thing on my mind. My husband did the grocery shopping and took me to my doctor’s appointments.

This continued after my daughter was born. My husband had to take off when our baby girl got sick or had a doctor’s appointment. We shopped for groceries over the weekend. If it was too cold he went alone. I pretty much gave up on the idea that I would ever get a license. The only time I regretted not having a license was when my husband had a kidney stone. He was in excruciating pain and had to drive himself to the emergency room.

After we celebrated my daughter’s first birthday, I found out I was pregnant. The nausea wasn’t as bad as the first time around but I barely had any energy to take care of A and myself. After my son was born we had so much going on with him that another couple of years went by. When I was finally ready to get my permit, the DMV insisted that I didn’t have enough documents to be granted one. A few frustrating years later, which saw my husband skip around his work schedule trying to accommodate doctor’s appointments (times 2!), trips to the preschool and everything else in between, I finally got my employment authorization. Now I had enough documents to get my learner’s permit.

In India depending on age and marital status, either dads or husbands teach their daughters or wives driving. Typically early in the morning when the roads are deserted or in the outskirts of the city where traffic is negligible. My husband’s Dad taught him driving when he was old enough to apply for a license. So my husband took me to a parking lot for my first lesson. By then my kids were older and we had wonderful friends who volunteered to baby sit. After driving around in a few parking lots at 5 m.p.h. I realized this was not a good idea. My husband was afraid I’d dent the car (hence the 5 m.p.h. speed limit). Every lesson saw us getting more and more stressed out. Finally we both agreed that I should just go to a driving school.

In 2009, after my grandma passed away I was determined to get my license. It was my tribute to her. But just after I finished my first lesson we got news from my husband’s company that we had to move to Florida. After a break of several months (as we settled down in Florida) I had to get my license and get it fast. Work pressure was high, my husband’s office was far away from home and working from home was not an option. I signed up for weekend lessons. My instructor (whom I will never forget) was a grandma with a great sense of humor. She teased and poked fun at me to get me relaxed. A few lessons later I was ready to take the test. After two attempts I finally got my license. It sits in my purse along with a picture of my grandma. I’m sure she’s saying – finally that girl got some sense in her and got her license!

I’m not one of those people who enjoy driving. I’d rather be driven around so I can take in all the sights around me. But I realize what a blessing it is to have a license (and a car) as I pass the bus stop on rainy days. It’s a blessing to be able to drive and it’s a blessing to have people to drive you around when you can’t. So thank you Papa, Dadima (and all her drivers) and my husband who still loves to drive me around sometimes!

 


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Yo-Yo Feminism and the Unsung Glories of a Die-Hard Housewife…

My mom had this plaque on the living room wall when I was a kid. It read…

I’m just a little housewife

With dishes three times a day

With laundry and cleaning and cooking

And toys to put away

Now it’s not that I mind the housework

Or the screaming kids at play 

It’s that husband that burns me

When he says with a smile

Did you do anything today??!!??       

I’d like to say that is the story of my life. But that wouldn’t be true. I go back and forth between being a domestic goddess and a die-hard feminist.  You just have to walk into the house to know which avatar has taken hold of me. The DG version will have the house vacuumed, dishes done and dinner prepared well ahead of time. She will also be humming a tune as she scrubs the tub and she might even bake a batch of cookies for the kids.

It’s a whole different story when the feminist takes over. You will have to hop over the shoes strewn in the foyer to get to the living room, from where you can see the mountain of dishes piled up in the sink. Your truly will be on the couch wearing a grungy T-shirt and stained PJs. As the kids rummage the kitchen for something to eat, la femme reluctantly uproots herself from the couch and grudgingly makes dinner. Cupboards will be slammed, pots and pans banged around, while she mutters something about being a slave!

The unsuspecting husband walks in. “Hello”, he pipes. Only to be met with an icy stare. He knows better than to say something because that is all she needs. One word and she’ll start her tirade against all men and the thankless job of being a housewife.

Out here in the U.S., nobody uses the term housewife. It’s home maker or stay-at-home mom, which are equally unglamorous, unless you are in a reality show – The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills! These glam dolls just have to dress up, have lunch dates and dinner parties, launch perfumes, vodkas or clothing lines (another excuse for a party!). They also meet with their dermatologists and plastic surgeons regularly. They are a poor representation of the common housewife and a sorry lot.

While there is some part of me that envies them- the part that doesn’t like housework I’m guessing – I wouldn’t last a day in their silicone/botox world. Also being a person who hates the limelight I’d rather live a life of obscurity than have a camera crew taping my every move! So all I can do is pretend I’m a diva and expect the imaginary help to do the chores. When I’m done with being a diva or the house starts to stink, whichever come first, I suck it up and go back to being domestic goddess.

An unpaid job is a thankless job. There is no reward for cleaning up your house except that you have a clean house. There is no reward for cooking fresh meals for your family, except that you all enjoy vibrant health. There is no glory in showing up day after day at the bus stop to pick up your kids after school. No glory in sweating it out in a hot soccer field as your child plays. No bonuses to be had. No promotions to work for. Just the quiet satisfaction of watching your children grow up. Just having enough time to smell the flowers. Just the wisdom to know that life is magical and is unfolding right before your eyes.

Oh who am I kidding? I have often wished fairy god mother would show up, wave her wand and turn me into a princess and turn the mice and cockroaches in my house into maids, cooks and ladies-in-waiting! Until then I will never cease to sing my glories, be a domestic goddess and fight for my rights!

P.S. Domestic goddess just read this post and she insists there are NO mice or cockroaches in the house. Did I mention she was appalled?


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The Chennai Chronicles – Part 4 (Family and Final Week)

My four-part travelogue will not be complete without mentioning my wonderful family and the good times we had together. My parents and in-laws live in Chennai and that makes life easy for us…or not! My trip to Chennai in 2011 was spent shunting between the two houses! This time we had a better plan and we actually implemented it. It also helped that both my Dad and father-in-law were in good health this time.

December happens to be kutcheri season and several musicians and dancers flock to Chennai for the Music Festival. My daughter learns music and we thought we should take her to a concert (kutcheri). So on New Year’s eve we were at Narada Gana Sabha nodding our heads to Sudha Ragunathan’s beautiful rendition of Thyagaraja and Papanasam Sivan’s compositions. As a bonus we got to see a Bharatanatyam performance by two very graceful ladies (whose names I forget!). We also sampled the food at the canteen, which, according to my friend A, is the highlight of the Music Festival. She was right – the aapam and vada curry and the rava dosai were to die for!

The next day we were up early and ready for our road trip to Mahabalipuram, a very touristy place just outside of Chennai. It’s known for its beautiful rock temples with intricate carvings dating back to the Pallava dynasty. There were rocks to climb, caves to explore and wells to peep into. The kids enjoyed it, although it was an awfully hot day and there was not much shade. We then stopped by Fisherman’s cove for lunch. The kids couldn’t wait to run into the beach and we had to force them to stay till they cleaned their plates. Then they headed into the water with their grandma in tow. After dinner at Ashoka we headed back home.

My Dad returned from Kerala with my grandma, Ganga. It was wonderful to see her. She looked healthy and happy. She lives at the Shivananda Ashram now and loves it. She has a place to herself, healthy fresh food and she gets to chant the Lord’s name everyday. What more could you ask for?  I asked her to stay on till N’s birthday, so we could all celebrate together. It’s the second time that his birthday happened to be during our stay in India. The first time really didn’t count because both my kids were terribly ill and we couldn’t do much.

My cousin G’s mom sent a chocolate cake for N’s birthday. We cut it on the 7th and on the 8th we all went out for lunch at Eden. So N had a 48-hour birthday! How you ask? Well, his d.o.b. is the 7th and according to his star sign (nakshatra in the lunar calendar) his birthday was on the 8th. He wanted a RC car for his birthday. He also got an X-Box game and some clothes. His grandpa made a special payasam (sweet dish) for him. But the best treat of all was getting to celebrate it with his grandparents, his uncle and Ganga!

The next day Ganga left for Kerala along with Dad and we got busy packing for our trip back. It was with heavy hearts that we said our goodbyes, but with hopes of coming back soon, so we could do it all over again.

To our families – we miss you and greatly appreciate all that you did (the long trips, the amazing food and the crazy shopping) to make this trip a memorable one. Love you tonnes!


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The Chennai Chronicles – Part 2 (People and Places)

32 days in Chennai. 32 glorious days. I met many old friends and made several acquaintances. So many that I can’t possibly write about every person I met. I just picked a few experiences that I think others would like to read about. But just so you know whether I met someone for 10 minutes or spent an entire day with them, I hold all of my friends close to my heart. Each feeds some part of my soul and enriches my life in a way only he/she can.

Even before I started from the U.S. I was determined to meet my soul sister N. We couldn’t meet in 2011 and I was upset I couldn’t make the trip to Pondicherry. Ever since I found her in 2010 (see http://www.punctuatelife.com/2012/02/19/finding-a-long-lost-love/) she has been my rock as far as my writing goes. She is always there for me, encouraging me and making me believe that I had it in me to write stuff that people would actually want to read. So much so that now ‘I’ think I’m capable of writing a book!

P wanted to take me but he had some urgent matters to attend to. So I drove down to Pondicherry (the very same place where Life of Pi was filmed) with my parents, my brother and the kids. I was seeing her after 10 years and the whole experience was surreal. It felt like we were in a dream. She was a hostess par excellence. We could smell the aroma of all the delicacies wafting from her kitchen even before we stepped into her house. Vada, chicken 65, tea, coffee, special Bengali sweets and kheer. And her sweet smile never left her face. I can see it now. I can feel the purity of her love which elevated me to heights that I never dreamt were possible for me. If you have but only one friend in this lonely world then let that friend be like N.

She took us all out to lunch at the ‘Rendezvous’ and refused to let us pick up the tab. She just wouldn’t hear of it. Such is the generosity of her soul. She wouldn’t let me ride in the car. So I rode with her on her bike, which was a ‘Pleasure’ literally! She did not want to waste one second of my trip and I was fighting sleep so I could talk to her face to face. Like lunch wasn’t enough, she hauled us off to a pastry shop for dessert. And to top it all a specially made Bengali kheer was waiting for us at her place. All in all we were filled with the sweetness of her hospitality, love and sumptuous food by the end of the day. Before I knew it the day was done and this meeting that I had planned and prayed for came to an end. I left a piece of me in Pondicherry and hope we meet again. Until then I will cherish this trip in 2012 that leaves a sweet aftertaste in my mouth when I just think about it.

I met R after nearly 20 years. She left for another school and that was the last I saw of her. We connected years later through a yahoo group from school. It so happened that she was travelling to India around the same time I was. So we decided to meet at a coffee shop. She came with her son and her sister. It was wonderful to see her after all these years and we chatted like old friends. It’s funny but all the girls who went to school with me share this common bond that ties us together no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done. When we meet or talk on the phone years later, we make a spontaneous and instant connection. It’s like all those years when we thought we were not connected, there was an invisible bond between us!

A few days later I met my dear pal A (of the Bisi Bela Bath fame) who was also in Chennai for a vacation. I almost thought I wouldn’t be able to meet her. She was splitting her time between three houses – her parents’, her in-laws’ and her sister’s. She was my dearest pal in MU and after we got married I moved to the U.S. and she moved to Australia. I kept wishing she would move to the U.S. and years later she did! And she was just 3 hours away from where we were staying. So we met at least 3 to 4 times a year. When I moved to Florida I really missed her. But it wasn’t so bad because we always talked on the phone. She was supposed to go to India last summer but her trip got cancelled. In hindsight I think that happened so I could meet her! It was a rushed meeting at a common friend’s place but it was good to see her after 3 whole years!

My aunt from TVM came down to spend a week with us. We did some fun shopping and did some sight seeing as well. We squeezed in a trip to the Chennai museum too. Sadly, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the museum. I marvelled at the architecture of the buildings – something I never really paid attention to as a child. The bronze gallery with it’s ancient idols from the Chola and Pandya dynasty were the best exhibits. I also enjoyed the art gallery with its Raja Ravi Varma paintings. Also  noteworthy are the ghoulish life-size paintings of British governors that seemed to come alive and appeared to be staring right at us.

I met my dear friend J and spent an entire evening with her at her home after enjoying a delicious lunch cooked by her. The kids played together and we laughed and giggled like old times. Giggled till our tummies hurt.

There were some unexpected surprises thrown at me (of the pleasant kind).  The first was S who is a distant cousin whom I’d met years ago at a wedding in Kerala. We hit it off and kept in touch through letters for some years. Now she’s married and is also into writing. She dropped in for lunch one day and it was fun catching up.

My long time friend G from elementary school,  made a sudden trip to India and we both did not know that the other was in Chennai. Call it divine intervention in the form of the isthri lady ( person you give your clothes to be ironed, not to be confused with dry cleaners). She turned up one day and she knew us right from our childhood days and knew we were friends. So she told me G was in Chennai (on the very same street!) and the next day she brought me her phone number. So I met G, her dad, her husband and her kids. God decided to throw in a bonus, so I met Uncle M and Auntie M who kinda moulded my views about vegetarianism many years ago.

When I was with G my mom called saying an old friend A had come over to meet me. She is my brother’s best friend’s sister. And we were phone friends when she lived in NJ. We had a lot in common and I really missed chatting with her when she left to settle in Chennai. What touched me the most was that she left her sick kids in the care of her husband and hurried to come see me!

This time in Chennai I felt like I was wrapped in the love and kindness that everyone extended to me. I didn’t want to leave that comfortable place. So a big thank you to my wonderful friends and family for a wonderful 32 days!

 


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The Chennai Chronicles – Part 1 (Spirit Guides and Signs)

P and I had been meaning to visit our parents in Chennai since the summer of 2012. But visa issues prevented us from making the trip. My cousin G was getting married in December and I really wanted to be there. It was November when our visa papers came through but booking tickets to India in the last minute and in the peak season meant paying a small fortune. So I prayed for a miracle. We got tickets for a decent price but had only a few weeks to pack, shop and get ready for a month long visit to India.

I was apprehensive about this trip. Chennai never felt the same after my grandma passed away and our last trip was so chaotic that I just wanted to get back home to the U.S. What if this trip was the same? My worry made me physically sick. I had a bad cough that wouldn’t go away even after a round of antibiotics. I was weak and listless. I spent the Thanksgiving holiday trying to help my daughter finish her project work and science experiments. My husband was busy shopping. I had no energy to shop but had to drag myself to Kohl’s for the Black Friday sale. I had to get the wedding gifts.

December came by and saw me feeling better physically, but fear was gnawing at my heart. Will I survive a month in Chennai? Will the mosquitoes eat my kids alive? And worst of all how can I stay there without my Dadima?

And then she came to me in a dream. She was sitting up on her bed, in her room. A quiet smile of reassurance playing on her lips. Almost like she was saying – I’m here for you. You have nothing to fear. And next to her sitting on a chair was Doreen Virtue! I have no clue what she was doing in my dream!

The fear melted away and I was confident that this trip was going to be magical from the get go. True enough the rest of my week was filled with rainbows, pennies, number patterns and other good omens.

We had to catch an early flight from Orlando to JFK. We were up at 2.00 a.m. and then headed off to the airport by 3.00. While we were waiting in line to clear the security check, I saw a girl holding a beautiful golden trophy with an angel on it. I was deliriously happy and I knew we’d fly to Chennai on the wings of an angel!

In JFK my son found a penny and right after that we got stuck at the security checkpoint. The TSA wanted to open one of our boxes. I grew apprehensive as I waited with my kids. I quickly started praying and asked my kids to do the same. My son said to me – Ma we just found a penny. I was bemused by my 7-year old’s wisdom. I quickly stopped fretting and turned around to see my husband walking towards us.

When I was in Chennai my brother gave me a book to read – The Small Book of Miracles. It had several short anecdotes about divine intervention and signs. (See http://www.punctuatelife.com/2012/04/18/a-sign-from-above/). So like I said in that post, pennies are a sign from above. But for the first time I realized why. The book said – look at what is written on a penny. It says ‘In God We Trust’. I had not paid attention to that before. But I had always wondered why a penny? Why not a quarter or a dime or a nickel? Now I know why! Next time you find a penny, pick it up with reverence and thank God for it. It is a powerful sign of reassurance and comfort that only your highest good will come through.

I was talking about my grandma to an old friend of Dad’s who was quite close to her. I was telling him how she remembered every birthday and sent cards ahead of time so it would reach us in the U.S. The last card she sent was for Nitin’s birthday before she passed away on February 3rd. The card never reached us. All I have is a tattered envelope with her writing on it and an apology note from the USPS for losing the mail. Little did they know how precious that card was. I wept over this tragic incident for a long time.

It so happened that Nitin’s birthday fell during our stay in Chennai. As happy as I was to spend it with both our families, I missed my grandma and wished she was also part of the celebration. I woke up that morning and stepped into the bathroom to brush my teeth. On the sink I saw a stamp with Indira Gandhi’s face on it. My grandma adored the first female Prime Minister of India and they shared the same name. Later I opened the newspaper to find a whole page on Indira Gandhi and also her picture. It still did not occur to me that my grandma was trying to tell me something.

At the end of the day I was drawn to a pile of books and papers and as I shuffled through them I found a card from my grandmother. It was an anniversary card and she had written on it, congratulating us on the birth of Anjali. I got the message loud and clear. I turned to Nitin and told him that Dadima was wishing him a very happy birthday!

At my cousin’s wedding I spoke to my aunt and she suddenly started talking about guardian angels. She said our loved ones are our guardian angels. Like Dadi was mine. My heart fluttered with joy to hear these words. I knew it was true but to hear it from someone else simply confirmed my beliefs.

Some say it is wrong to call on your loved ones once they have crossed over. But I think in my case my grandma has chosen to be with me and I feel blessed to have her blessings and her guidance. You see love knows no boundaries. This time when I left Chennai, a piece of me stayed behind.

More about my Chennai trip in Part 2. Happy 2013 everyone.


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A Place to Call Home…

Where is this elusive place called home? It seems like I’ve been searching for it all my life. Growing up, I had two homes. I spent the early part of my childhood with my grandma, missing the company of my brother and hoping to live with my parents. My teenage years I spent with my parents and for the most part it felt like home. But I always knew I couldn’t live there forever. Marriage loomed large and I couldn’t shake off the uncertainty that came with it. Would I still live in Chennai or would I move to a different city in India? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d move to another country. A country so far away that you had to take two planes and travel across many time zones to get there!

That’s when the sickness began. This homesickness. But I think it was always there. This feeling of not belonging and wanting to be somewhere else. In the hope that ‘somewhere else’ would fill the gaping hole in my heart. But it never did. Some people can make a home anywhere and be happy anywhere. I do envy them. One friend said to me, “Where ever I am is home.” Wish I could say that!

Sometimes I think this whole alien conspiracy theory is true. Maybe I’m actually an alien from another planet who got left behind during a mission. They must have scrambled my memory because I have no idea who I am! There are days when people and the world makes no sense to me. I’m completely spaced out so to speak.

Then again maybe I have a memory of another lifetime when things were simple. When people mattered more than things or money. When mother earth was not taken for granted and everyone shared her bountiful resources. Maybe that’s the thing I’m missing. Maybe home no longer feels like home – a safe haven where you can be yourself and nurture yourself.  Everything seems to have changed since I last visited. Much like the city I grew up in – Chennai. Every time I go there something has changed – new buildings, 10,000 new cars, people everywhere. So much so that the very vibe of the city has changed and it doesn’t feel like the place I grew up.

Going home, for me,  is just a matter of booking tickets and boarding the right plane. Many others face the grim reality of never being able to go home or fearing for their safety when they travel to their homeland. One friend booked her tickets two weeks prior to the turmoil that erupted in her country. Now she fears for her family and would lose a lot of money if she cancels her tickets. My heart goes out to her. She just wants what I want – to spend the holidays with her family. I do hope and pray she can make it there safely and back.

For us going to India involves tackling visa issues, traffic, mosquitoes and the heat (in the summer). Our lives are not threatened nor our freedoms compromised. I did call this place home but over the years all the changes in me and in India make it feel less like home. The sad truth is no other place I’ve lived in feels even close to what Chennai felt like.

When I close my eyes and let my imagination fly, I can see that place. That place I would delight in calling home. The land is green. The people are smiling. Food is abundant. The smell of fresh earth mingles with the aroma of fresh vegetables stewing on a stove top. Children laugh and play. People come together and celebrate life everyday. They share and love and grow. Learn and teach. Worry and fear are alien emotions. Lack and disease, unheard of. Maybe I’m dreaming of Utopia. Maybe Utopia is the home I’m yearning for. And my quest continues…


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The Work Saga

Thanks to the recession and the rise in unemployment, I’ve been doling out advice to my friends who are out of work and actively looking. Believe in yourself! Keep trying! Something will show up! But I’m not good enough they say and I point out how wonderful their resumes are and how many years of experience they have. I almost always never fail to mention my resume and the big hole in it (the years I spent staying home and caring for my beautiful babies) and the little or no work experience I had before that. And then they would feel better and eventually they would get jobs. I can’t count the number of times I put myself down and compared myself and my life to that of friends, just to make them feel better about themselves. And everytime I did that my words were slowly getting etched in my brain and slowly turning into this belief – this self-sabotaging belief.

So then I finally decide to go back to work and I’m wondering why nobody responds to my e-mails and why nobody wants to hire me. And the belief gets stronger. You stayed home too long. You don’t have enough experience. Your brain has degenerated. You are dumb! You are not worth it! Nobody wants you!  I was writing affirmations everyday – I now accept this new and wonderful job and watching you tube videos that promise to attract money and income, while my mind is on a totally different frequency playing mostly blues! And everyday it is the same – no responses, no calls, no job, nothing. A month goes by and I quit. I just go about my daily chores and pretend I’m happy. And then this thing inside me grows, I get so restless that I want to get a job. Back to sending resumes, writing e-mails and giving advice to friends without jobs. And then it strikes me. Here I am giving advice and not following my own advice. Keep trying I tell them and I give up after a month! I’ve got to keep trying. Something will show up. So I spend 3 -4 four months trying and I finally land a part-time job. I can’t believe it! I’ve broken the jinx. The 9 year jinx!

The job lasts 1 month, 1 week and 1 day. Then I quit and stay home to take care of my daughter who broke her arm. I tell everyone that I quit because my daughter broke her arm and while I’m saying those words I know that’s not true. Why? Because I’m happy being home, not having to rush to work on Saturday mornings, not having a crazy schedule on Tuesday evenings. I was appalled at myself. By God D.C., you are one lazy lout! And then I stop myself because I’m overly obsessed with positive thinking.

So it’s back to square one. What did I do wrong now? And ta da! Another book drops on my lap from the heavens. A book on hypnosis. No, I didn’t hypnotise myself and secure a job in a trance. But the book spoke at length about the nature of the conscious and subconscious mind. My conscious mind was the culprit. The lazy, happy-where-it-is, couldn’t-care-less-about-changing part of me. Now if I could just get a lobotomy and do away with that pesky little conscious mind, life would be sweet.

Looking back, while driving to work (when I had this short-lived job) I could feel part of me resisting, unhappy with all the adjustments I had to make in order to get to work. It worked against me. And I just thought it was something on the outside. Like the boss or the pay or the timings or infinite other excuses. Never did I take responsibility for those feelings. Now I have and the saga continues. I think I have broken the disconnect between my internal and external reality. Hope this time it works. I will keep you posted when I land my dream job. But for now, I’m doing what I love i.e. writing this advice column!