The Covid Life – Emotional Distance.

How do you do the long distance love? Parents, cousins, friends.

Yes, we do the video-calling and the normal calling and the whatsapp messages. But these are not ordinary times to just keep in touch in a passive detached way. Every thing seems to be tangled up in every thing. News, moods, love.

We consistently find the answer in everyday little things. Good mornings, breakfast photos, a call to say hi, lunch photos, a non-sensical joke forward, sharing a song i hummed all day, sunset photos, sending them reiki healing, daily game of ludo, analysis of the game, jibes over how dad’s always focused on killing us all, slightly heavy goodnights because none of us know how tomorrow will fare but we are hopeful.

It is a hell of a lot of work. Sensitivities are at peak and emotions are swinging like never before. Some days you tick all the boxes and arguments still break out but you don’t have the luxury to be upset for a whole day because none of us know how tomorrow will fare but yes, we are still hopeful.

Then we hunt for ways to keep the connection going in a purely mechanical way. Ludo comes in handy again. Play, kill, throw a six, start again. Hesitatingly share another dinner photo and hope you get a reply or even just an emoticon. Gauging cautiously, you make that call just to say goodnight and you sleep yet again with a slightly heavy heart because none of us know how tomorrow will fare but we are hopeful.

I read somewhere, ridiculous times like these call for ridiculous amounts of love. Yes please, love. Even when you feel like you can’t, LOVE. Baby steps 🙂

Remnants of a Separation

Every once in a while you come across a book that makes you feel deeply. Remnants of a Separation is one where the author takes you on a journey through endings, beginnings and more importantly the chaotic and heartbreaking in-betweens experienced by some of the families who were victims of the divide on both sides of the border. Traveling back to another time with them and feeling what they felt, living their memories through artefacts and heirlooms they carried during the migration.

During these times, it provides the human lens of seeing people as people, emotions as emotions through the partition, without any other biases.

Remnants of a Separation, in all honesty it was the cover art that first caught my eye. Chapter 4: The Maang-Tikka of Bhag Malhotra ♥️

The author has a twitter and instagram account where she shares more, and it has become a morning ritual of sorts to go check for updates.

Wine happens.

So, our kitchen sink has a big leak, possibly water pipe broken and needs a plumber urgently. Here is how whatsapp conversation with husband (on his rare day working from office) went:

Me: so, he’ll fix it tomorrow?

Him: no, assuming wall needs to be broken, will take a few days

Me: my kitchen is a mess, he needs to find an immediate temp solution

Him: may not happen tomorrow

Me: this sucks, I may have wine

Him: nice (sarcastic nice), today is the 17th, may have wine

Him: today is Thursday, may have wine

Him: the sky is blue today, may have wine

Me: it’s my birthday month

Him: october is the follow-up to birthday month, may have wine

And, it went on. My partner in w(h)ine, he does not drink 🙂

The Covid Life – Balcony series.

This tiny strip of land we call balcony.

Home to our plants, our chai dates, deep conversations.

Our connection to the outside. Moving cars on the road providing some semblance of normalcy. Heavy downpours, lightning and cloud drama giving us company on otherwise lonely days.

Our comfort space to go to after petty arguments because living together 24 hrs also takes a toll some days. To shut the balcony door firmly. To go stare outside. The vast expanse of the sea providing comfort to the restless soul.

Our brief escape route from the day-to-day routine with the gorgeous sunrises, stunning sunsets and beautiful dusk settings.

Solace.

The New Normal.

Given, we are living in the new normal now. While there is no denying the fact that a pandemic as big as what we are currently facing is bound to change one’s way of living, it is hard sometimes to pinpoint exactly what some of these big attitude changes are.

Here are my most evident ones –

  • Filtering the outside noise – Social media has always come with its own dose of ugly and there are now significantly a greater number of people engaging online at a higher frequency than earlier. It has become more important than ever to effectively filter out what you allow to enter your mind space and what stays. I have ruthlessly unfollowed and muted people on Instagram; commenting turned off for most posts. New Facebook connection requests are strongly filtered. WhatsApp group notifications have been put on mute. And no, I have zero FOMO moments, this is pure JOMO. I have reached Marie Kondo expert level 8/10, and life is so peaceful I wonder why it took me so long to get here.
  • A-level prioritization – Never, I repeat, never have I so unconsciously been able to prioritize what needs my emotions and actions till now. It is disconcerting when I think of how some of the most hyped news these days fails to rattle me. It affects me, but it no longer freezes me in my tracks. And while the noise filtering is conscious, the prioritization I have to say is mostly unconscious. It is almost as if very automatically there is a mental system that starts classifying various levels of graveness in my head and does not demand a strong reaction till it reaches red alert level. I do not understand the reasons behind it. Is it the many distractions and escape routes available? Is it the heightened awareness around mental health issues? Is it this need to live every moment as best as possible given and despite the Covid uncertainty? It is like my brain decided to play out Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@#k effortlessly, 2 years after I read the book. I do not know if I like it yet, but the soul feels clean so far.
  • Mental Health – Suffice to say, very aware of the ups and downs. The big change here is the conscious action taken when I figure it’s a down. Automatically social media is put on hold, chai is brewed, candles are lit, couch is seized, blanket thrown over. Hygge all the way.

We are conscious there is a raging pandemic outside seriously affecting many people. I have had a job loss myself and it was hugely disappointing. Politics is a shit-show right now all over. We have parents back in India, where daily case numbers are breaking their own records. All of this is being taken in with the knowledge that 99.8% of it is not in our control. We have contributed where we could and are taking care of our own the best possible way in this situation (and vice versa). There is also an acute sense of gratitude knowing we have the better deal so far by virtue of living in a well-managed small country. As cliché as it sounds, there is a roof over our head, food on the table, good health which we are putting every effort in maintaining, responsible and disciplined family members, a few close friends with whom we can be our cranky unfiltered selves when needed, and the good side of social media to share in the collective pick-me-ups.

Perspective.

It is unfortunate that a pandemic had to be our wake-up call on some fronts, but like the wise ones say – it is never too late.

Lessons in Clay.

That scene from Ghost. Demi Moore. Patrick Swayze.

Movie inspiration aside, my love affair with pottery actually began in Rome, where I stayed at my aunt’s house – it had a warm earthy vibe, an old world mess of pots and mosaics. I’ve always wanted to create a home as a reflection of who we are and our lives… every piece curated or handcrafted…speaking of interesting stories and shared conversations.

Shortly after returning, I took up pottery lessons. It was everything I was expecting and more. The absolute joy of getting your hands dirty, the feel of wet clay and the smell of glazes – it’s such a heady mix and feels like too much, yet just right all at once.

Posting some of my pieces here –

  • Starry Night – painted a dark midnight blue glaze with little specks that burst when fired, to give this tealight candle holder it’s glassy dotted look and texture.

Candle Holder

  • Babyphants – hand sculpted, they have tiny pouches where one can keep the teabag after use or mini cookie bites even. My first creation, dedicated to the husband and his love for elephants. We are a little nervous to actually use it so these two are perched up on the windowsill, being unusually chatty with each other.

Elephant Mugs

  • Potted in Pink – a small’ish pot, the glaze is a mysterious red that turned pink when fired, giving it a much more delicate look than what I was going for. Saving it for a money plant, multi-purposing as a pen stand till then.

Pot

  • Lost in Translation – As the story goes, my teacher (T) asked a friend (B) and me to paint our pieces in different layer of colors.
    • T meant – each coat of paint in a different color to give an interesting finish once fired.
    • B perceived – mix a couple of different colors to create a new one and paint each coat with this new color.
    • I perceived – Divide my bowl into three sections/layers and paint each in a different color. I went dark to light, shades of rich blue over the raindrops carved into my bowl.

Needless to say, we had a good laugh over it all and stand proud owners of our pieces, no matter the mix-up over layers.

Bowl Bookmarks

  • Roll me up Pretty – the husband’s favourite, a rolled slab shaped into a tray, stamped in lotuses, painted a dotted blue and deep pink.

Tray

  • Sunset in Rome – an ode to the place where it all started, the place where I left a part of me.

Bowl

Each of my creations have their own little place at home…whether standing nerdy holding bookmarks on the shelf, lying lazy on the coffee-table or shining a dim light during cozy dinners.

The big dream is to go back to Rome for a pottery course (and for the gnocchi, and for the wine). But like they say  – everything, in its own time!

L.O.V.E. is a four letter word.

How many different kinds of love are there – someone asked me. Just the four-letter one, the simple me said. Infinite, the complicated me said.

The we don’t meet often but there’s an instant connect when we do kinda love.

The I’ll always have your back kinda love.

The you give me butterflies in my tummy kinda love.

The you swallow me whole, heart and soul kinda love.

The no words, only eyes kinda love.

The I need you right now kinda love.

The ping hi to say nothing else kinda love.

The no words, no eyes, only hands kinda love.

The lets sneak in a kiss kinda love.

The I’ll learn all about superheroes for you kinda love.

The 3am call kinda love.

The grow old together kinda love.

The I’ll give you my last saved piece of fries kinda love.

The 3am call, come over now and bring me ice-cream kinda love.

The sweet snuggle in on a rainy day kinda love.

The no one dare hurt you or I’ll taser them kinda love.

The I love you but I am too scared to admit it kinda love.

The I need to text you about every little thing kinda love.

The sit on the couch do nothing but toes, fingers, legs, hands curled with each other kinda love.

The possessive needy you are mine kinda love.

The calm secure I know you are mine kinda love.

The look in the mirror – I got you love, kinda love.

The just a four-letter word kinda L.O.V.E.

Shit! I am a strong independent woman.

My husband sent me this, as a joke. I responded with a lengthy piece on how the concept of an independent woman or a woman with feminist values is often misconstrued. Sorry to the husband but also thanks for getting me to re-start my blog.

Dear fellow men,

When I bring up a feministic/independent viewpoint, what I’m saying is not that “I am one of the boys” or that “Women are stronger” and I’m definitely not saying “I hate men”…unless you’ve given me a solid reason to dislike you…which would not change even if you were a woman.

Here’s what I am in fact saying:

  • I (we) do not need a man’s approval, just as much as I would not need another woman’s. However, when I do ask you, it is because I value your opinion and respect your feelings.
  • The actual words you are looking for is “gender parity” or “gender equality”, critical in areas where we put in equal effort e.g. similar kind of work. Also critical for basic human rights e.g. the right to vote, the right to education, etc.
  • I (we) like being pampered, doesn’t matter if it’s self-pampering or otherwise. Not because I’m dependent on someone or simply because I’m a woman but because everyone likes to be spoilt silly sometimes. Affection is very gender-neutral, wouldn’t you agree?!
  • A No is a No. It is about respecting boundaries and comfort levels. We do have a sense of humor but disrespect disguised as a joke is a No. There’s a difference.

Basically – “There are areas of expertise where men may be better than women and vice versa. That doesn’t make anyone of us any less equal. If anything, we complement each other. That being said, a No needs to be respected on both sides.”

If you feel anything otherwise, then that would be your assumption. Come talk, we can agree to disagree over a drink or coffee 🙂

Love,

P.S: These are my thoughts. Any resemblance or similarity to any other thoughts/actual events & situations is purely coincidental.

Home – the feeling of it.

I read a beautiful piece yesterday on how one is not 100% happy all the time. Rather joy or the utter feeling of it comes in moments and it’s these moments that stay with us a while. Here’s some moments that belong so completely to me, they are absolutely and wholly mine :o)

  • Waking up to the pitter patter of rain on my window…
  • Stealing 10 minutes of us-time with my hubby in the morning sipping Pudina chai , no words spoken…
  • Discovering $10 in the back pocket of my jeans…
  • Hubby surprising me by buying Coca Cola cos I have cooked Pav Bhaji and it is my absolute favorite combination :o)
  • Noticing another couple dunk their croissant in coffee in a fancy Paris café, I smile at my hubby and then we proceed to do the same…
  • Reading a Nora Roberts and thinking I am exactly like the female lead (prettiness and the works)…he he he…
  • Tipsy happy conversations around math and philosophy…after two glasses of wine…and the memories of it the next day :o)
  • Simple words of appreciation from my boss or a co-worker on work well done…
  • Discovering by fluke that the awesomest bagel shop in all of NYC was bang opposite our hotel…
  • The innocent toothless grin from my friend’s 2 yr old, especially while she clutches my hand…this one just topples my heart over :o)
  • Wearing matching Wonder Woman and Supey tees with the hubby to comic con…
  • Front row seats on the upper deck of a double decker bus roaming around the city, especially when it rains…
  • Rains!!!! Anytime of the day!!! Rains!!! I love rains, it washes out every little bit of low and negativity from my soul…
  • Co-incidences, the good ones, like when I am missing someone, and they ping Hi…
  • Hugs!!! I am big on hugs, not the sideway ones, the really big warm bear hugs that squash me with love…I can proudly say I have received some exceptional ones…
  • Seeing snow for the first time!! I will never forget that feeling! Ever!!
  • Exchanging knowing glances with a bestie, Oooooo…the secretive ones :o)
  • Having an aha! Moment where all the jumbled up, messed up thoughts just sort of fall in place, in a jiffy…
  • Super sweet and sugary icing on a cupcake…yum…
  • Pure unfiltered love in any form – a friend filling my wineglass with his own in the split second my hubby looks away, another one mussing up my hair in like a protective big brother way, cutiepie of a girlfriend massaging my head seeing me in severe sinus pain, another one pushing her hubby out of the room to sleep with me cos I used to be scared sleeping alone (ghosts!!!), an out-of-touch college friend pinging to say she misses our sitting-on-the-roof-with-a-faraway-look deep conversations, yet another sort of just-got-back-in-touch friend saying she will buy me organic natural soaps (I love!!!) from her trip to Morocco…this is an endless list…

These just fill my soul with waves of happiness and a sort of glowy contentment, like feeling immense joy, safety and love all at once, kind of like how I feel resting my head in my mum’s lap. That’s what these remind me of – Home, the feeling of it, in random places, with random people.

Be Your Own Referral.

My initial thoughts about paying for a premium account on Linkedin were laden with skepticism. It wasn’t the money that pinched as it seemed fair to charge ~INR 1,400 a month to reach out to a world of recruiters, hiring managers and corporate role models. It was the effectiveness of the inmails that bothered me.

I started off inmailing recruiters while searching for a role in India, in the first 4-5 months of looking out. No response. Literally, 0 responses! In a short time my husband’s role got us to Singapore and I started inmailing the recruiters here – lukewarm response…around a ~15% response rate on average. Not bad!!! Then, very slowly and hesitantly I started inmailing Hiring managers. Now, these are the VPs, the Head of Departments and Directors that I was reaching out to, a person usually shy in personal interactions and hugely worried about invading inbox spaces of the senior guys. Guess what? The response rate shot up to ~50% for profiles that were a close fit.

There are things I learnt from my experience using Linkedin premium for almost a year now.

  • Geography matters – Don’t get me wrong. Linkedin is all pervasive and is popular all over. But while it has a global reach, it seems to have varying engagement levels. There is every possibility that recruiters in Singapore are more open to the credibility an inmail carries or that they value the proactiveness of a candidate using inmail to reach them vs. considering them intrusive. Maybe they simply visit their account more often and not just to ‘like’ or say ‘congrats’ to people in their network. My hypothesis is that the response rate is high in countries that place a very high emphasis on Industry Networking (online and offline), making them more open to getting inmails from non-connections.
  • People matter – I value the role a recruiter plays in the hiring process. But the reality is that they get bombarded with numerous choices in a single day and for your resume to stand out in the initial screening phase it has to tick off every pre-requisite, sometimes one that says MBA required even when you may have practically covered 80% of the JD in your previous roles. These are the times when you use the search function (another brilliant benefit of the premium account) to look for the head/senior of the team in the company you want to apply and shoot an inmail directly to them. Before landing the new role, I interviewed with 4 companies – one where I reached out to the Recruiter and the other 3 directly to the Hiring Manager. I am not exaggerating when I say the responses from the Hiring Managers came within a day.
  • Role matters – Inmailing for exploratory chats in case potential roles open up in the future rarely worked. Asking for advice or a chat to learn more about the industry also rarely worked. Cold inmailing for tangential roles did not work. An inmail works best when you see a role that is a close fit with your profile but you do not have a referral. There was at least one role every month where I was 100% sure I was the right person for it. These were the times I dreaded going the traditional route of applying on a company website, because who knew if my resume would even make it to the Hiring Manager through the various filters along the way. These are the times I wished hard I knew someone at the company who could refer me for the role. I kid you not when I say Linkedin lets you be your own referral. And that is awesome because now you can present yourself directly to the Hiring Manager the way you would want to. Be bold! Which gets me to my last point…
  • Content matters – A lot of people I know pay that extra money for the account, do all of the above and then when it comes to drafting the inmail, show mere interest in the role and leave it at that. Seriously?! When you inmail someone, you are already portraying yourself as a bold person willing to go that extra mile towards what you want (as long as you don’t keep stalking that person, which then borders on desperation). When you have an inmail that doesn’t match this personality, everything falls flat. The power of a short and creative inmail displaying your fit with the role is not to be underestimated. Be polite, be humble but be absolutely clear that you are the “One” for this role. Make your premium profile talk.

This is not a sponsored post!!! I do not work at Linkedin but I cannot discount how much the premium feature helped in my job search, converting me into a firm believer that if used correctly it can work wonders.

A slice of Life, buttered up nice.

There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread on a cloudy morning and the coziness of the warm kitchen with tea brewing on the side.

I have waited a year to get my hands dirty baking bread, making it seem difficult in my tiny brain with the complications around kneading and the impatience of having to wait for the dough to rise that many times. I wanted quick bread yet tasty bread and in the parallel universe that runs in my brain, I was sure there was a way to make that happen, just a matter of efficient googling on my part. Then last Sunday I just decided to put all those hours spent googling to actually try and bake a bread.

It’s just how life is and that day as the smell reached every part of my soul and as my hands with a dull ache from all the kneading felt used in a good way, there was a kind of dawning…an Aha moment! In a sense, it was me realizing that some things turn out better when you let them just sit and the ingredients mix in by themselves and give way to a wonderful creation. There is no short-cut to it and even if I create one, the end result may not be what I had dreamed of.

The clouds had cleared and I was ready to butter up a delicious warm slice to bask in my new found consciousness.

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