Day 22- Do I miss my expat life?

I know for a fact that most of my readers here, are a residuum from my old life. One of them, who is also a friend got in touch with me today. Among other things, she enquired if I missed Qatar, and my life there. Hmm.

I have never really given it much thought, to be honest.  There are elements of that life that I miss. The Corniche, the clean parks, OR 12, the Villagio, endless running tracks, my ex- nanny. Mostly, the fancy cars 🙂

I’m joking of course!

Na, I’m serious. Not.

I do not miss it, miss it. I do not wish to be back. It was an epoch of my life that I look back upon fondly. I met some wonderful people, had incredible, new life experiences. Most importantly, it is where I had my children. So, I did leave a bit of myself there. But, the repatriation was entirely voluntary and wholehearted.

So the short answer is no. I do not miss it. I do not miss not having a support system. I do not miss the subconscious feeling of alienation. I do not miss the tiresome travel. I do not miss being away from family and friends.

But I do miss ‘the bubble”. A very intimate space of life, occupied by only the nearest. Far, far away, distant from prying eyes and perky ears. Love pours forth in hurried phone calls from immediate family. Yet, no one can interfere in your matters (only south Asians will understand what that means!). You are missed dearly. You are exotic, needed; but far away. Sigh! You can start anew, build new reputations, start afresh. Unburdened by those around you who have witnessed you stumbling into adulthood. At work, they see a polished you, not knowing the early bumbling you. The more I think, the more perks I unravel.

Yet, no. I do not miss it. I might do it again for the adventure and novelty, not because I miss it.

When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.

-Clifton Fadiman

Till next time,

J

Day 21- And it shall continue

So, this is not the end, as expected. After the early days of ‘break- taking’, and routine- creating, the past few days have been surprisingly busy and productive and messy and incredibly wholesome. I did domestic duties and kept the children occupied during the day, and worked on a paper all night. And trained at dawn. When did I sleep, you ask? Ha!

That is what I’ve been up to. No movies, no Netflix ballyhoo, no snoozefests. Yes, there were late-night, balcony green- tea rumination sessions and early morning stomach vacuums. Also…

Chaotic water fights under the shower and endless mopping and scrubbing of ‘stuff’ (aka play dough, actual dough, acrylic paint, poster colors, oil paints, glue, glitter glue, fabric glue, juice, ice- cream, yogurt, curry, cereal infused milk, milky biscuits, chocolate, wax, bits of paper, bread crumbs, rice flakes, corn flakes, yada yada yada) from the floor tiles. Arguments with a 6 going on 16 ‘woman’ who thinks math is overrated. And reasoning sessions with a 3 going on god- knows- what man which mostly ends up with me being smacked in the face with various items of the household. Lounge wear and sleep- face. Roots desperate for color and brows like Frida Kahlo.

Aah! I miss my old life.

There have also been loads of curfew- less, non- time-bound pajama parties and sleep-ins. Forced to eat home food, sweaty, impromptu carpet and baby workouts; and the appearance of a flicker of a shadow of an eight- pack (HELLLOOO ol’ friend!). And loads and loads of cuddles from tiny humans who mean the world to you.

I do not miss it THAT much.

Till next time,

J

Day 11- Better days

Heard this just I opened the page to type.

 

I am happy for the life I have lived thus far. I’ve not had less, nor more. Just enough, of everything; laughter, joy, pain, love, gauntlets, triumphs. Do I regret my choices? If I’m being honest, no. Could I have done things differently? I do not think so. Is my current actuality less than satisfactory? Considering the default human condition, it is absolutely stellar. Do I wish for better? Unfortunately, my humaness warrants that I do.

Till next time,

J

P.S. This is a car song without a doubt (wait…for the beat to kick in). In hope of my next rainy, road trip, once all this is over, I bid good night. Stay safe folks!

 

Day 8- WhatsApp fuckery!

My post today is going to be be a tad different. I’m a very hesitant user of WhatsApp. For several reasons. But I must admit, it has it’s uses. And of the millions (of course I exaggerate, or do I?) of messages and forwards I receive, I do not usually bother with the forwards. But sometimes, I get riled up. I did so today.

I think I need to share it.

This was the forwarded message-

Amazon, they use to give full two pages advertisement in all newspapers. Flipkart, don’t know how many times they celebrated Big Billion Days in a year. They flooded with Chinese products to Indian market. Sold them and made huge money.

Big Basket, Grofferrs, their notifications was ringing every hour till last week. Malls, Super Markets, Big Bazaar. Where are they now? They stopped all services! No delivery at all. Tomorrow when dust settles they will come again with 20-30% discount sales. We forget what they did in these difficult times and go again to online and super market. Think again!

Who helped us during this tough time? Our own street Grocery storewala. He is supplying grocery and necessary stuff in this lock down period. The milkman is supplying milk everyday. He has not shut his service and ran away. That small vegetable shop run by lady is still open. Don’t know from where she is bringing vegetable but she is feeding us. Will you forget this help?

I will not. I have decided henceforth I will not go to Amazon, Flipkart, Grofferrs or Big Basket. No malls, no super market. I will shop in Kirana store, local dairy and small vegetable shop which helped my family to survive. It’s okay I will spend some more ruppes. But I will not forget what they have done for me and my family.

Thanks 🙏

( Don’t know who penned this but a point to note )

And this was my hastily, almost subconscious, frenzied reply. Copied and pasted. Not even edited for grammar or spelling.

I have ruminated for a while before replying to this. Please do not be offended, or take this personally. You guys must have noticed that I am quite reticent on WhatsApp. My replies are abysmally delayed, and a forward from me probably means I’m sick or delusional. But sometimes, replies are warranted, even to errant forwards from strangers.

The quantum of misinformation and rubbish that we are bombarded with on the daily, on this very useful platform is mind- numbing. Generally, I consider it a nuisance, but now I realize that daily shots of this, even in minute doses is enough for mass indoctrination and amplified mob frenzy. To make matters worse, our current political climate seems to fuel the mania.

I urge you all to read, from every source you can. Widen you horizons, wisen up on local, national and international matters. Have a world view. We are all (on this group at least) people of science no?

Consume from the left media, the right wing, the centre, middle- every fucking publication and media if you have to . Look for evidence, not conjecture. Start looking at news as you would a scientific paper. What level of evidence is it? Among the five (or six, or seven) levels, Whatsapp in my humble opinion is level 100. Worse than nothing.

Or you could chose not to know at all. Forget the media and their endless rambles. The screechy voices and sketchy on field reporters. The journalists who can’t string a sentence together. (Would I be allowed to work if I couldn’t place a suture?) The 24 hr ballyhoo. Be blissfully ignorant, and therefore happy. And, also not have a WhatsApp account.

Let us look at this seemingly innocuous forward for example. To put the record straight- I am one of those who orders extensively online. It makes my life a lot easier, trust me. And the past week has been hard. I first ordered on Amazon Fresh (where the delivery window is 2 hours) on Saturday evening (a day before the curfew), and received a slot for the next Wednesday! I knew then, that this was a portend for things to come. My orders have all since been cancelled, and not by me. Today an email said, deliveries for essential items have resumed in my area. I went online- no luck! System errors it said, then ‘no delivery slots’ apparently. Of course I was gutted, irritated. Suddenly Amazon is the enemy no? Of course, beat the beaten dog to death!

Amazon is a multi- national, billion- dollar, corporate giant. With almost a million directly employed employees and several more indirectly employed. Does any sane man/ woman believe they do NOT want profit at this time? When ecommerce orders have jumped exponentially. During the good times, they could offer massive sales and offers and quick deliveries due to their gargantuam stockpiles and armies of warehouse and delivery workers. The warehouses and stocks are worth shit if the workers can’t show up or if they are beaten half to death on the way to the homes of their consumers! Also, the term “essential” item is a minefield. Ask the folks who run the companies. (I could elaborate, but that would be too much)

Other countries who have been hit by COVID-19 worse than us, especially the US and UK are still quite reliant on ecommerce suppliers. They consider them life- savers. They write up thank you plaques outside their doors for these folks who get them their milk and bread. They are no less heroic to them than any ER nurse or physician.

Why are we suffering then?

The answer is always the same no. Inadequate, or worse- wrong information handed to the folks in the field. Mismanagement, political shilly-shally, and many a time , ignorant or fanatical idiots at the helm.

As for the kirana shops, I do not doubt that at least some of them have altruistic intentions; but the majority are here to do what everyone else wants to. Make a quick buck, make hay while the sun shines. Exactly like the ones who hoard masks and sanitizers and sell them at exorbitant prices. Prices for essential commodities have been artificially risen to upto 70% in some instances. Again, this is multi- factorial, and not entirely of their making, yet they do play a part. They behave in a patronising manner, refuse to provide bills in some instances, refuse to serve customers who question them, refuse to give items that were asked for (in those shops where the customers wait outside, and lists are handed over to the employees)

Do not get me wrong here, I am not trying to glorify the giant corporations or vilify our poor, small traders, my grouse is with this “shooting from our arses” mentality. Where everyone with a fuckall WhatsApp account is an expert.

Please, I beg of you my lovely, smart , intelligent ladies. Let us pledge to screen every message and forward, scrutinise every “fact” and second guess every image and video before we mass circulate this. Let us not let idiots and imbeciles insult our intellects this way.

I apologise for my rant. I wouldn’t say this anywhere else; except to MY people.

P.S. My milkman is a super star. That IS a scientifically proven fact.

What say, just a tad too much?

Till next time,

J

 

 

Day 2- The Needle and other inanities.

I’m often accused of verbosity. Of using thirty words when seven would suffice. Mea Culpa. But pray tell me, if a resource were infinite;  is there need to practice restraint. What has austerity of words ever accomplished. Silence can be a powerful weapon. And like any warrior of words, I know when to wield it. Verbiage ain’t no sin, but prolixity is. I hope I’m never charged of the latter.

Ugh! I digress.

Day 2, of being homebound or “locked- down” as described by current, trendy parlance . Fed and bathed the progeny and myself. Cleaned and played referee for most of the day. Got a badass upper body workout in, while the progeny tried to the tear the door down. Had an afternoon nap with the soon to be three year old (oh, oh- he turned three twenty minutes ago). Tea and biscuits on the balcony. I could get used to this.

I did not venture out today, though I contemplated it quite a few times. Every time I read a whatsapp message, or watched the news; I felt I was being told to stock up. Maybe tomorrow. Let’s see if my will lasts another day.

The Needle stayed put in the ‘happy to okay’ section. The Needle is a determinant/ measure of my mood and mien. The state of my mental workings at any point of time. It is tremendously variable, and the spectrum is truly spectacular. If my husband’s scale ranges from a mere 1 to 5. Mine is a an easy 1 to 100. External stimuli, internal triggers, hormonal fluctuation, diurnal variance, nutritional insufficiency; any and all may lead to  wild swings of the needle.

I consider it my biggest failing. Yet, it forces me to live life with a sort of intensity and vigour that is hard to describe to one that has never experienced it. Joy is like a thunderstorm with crackling thunder and blinding lightening. Misery is like a shroud of all encompassing darkness with cacophony of relentless thoughts that cannot be powered off. Anxiety is multiplied, so is productivity. It is a fabulous life, yet taxing in ways that cannot be easily understood. The Needle at a certain point can get one to run a marathon on a whim, read Lord of the Rings in a night. At another, it will refuse to let you get up for work.

Therefore, I need to keep my vision short. Not think too far. Not take The Needle for a ride. These are difficult times for everyone. Misery and pain, are unique. They cannot be quantified. It exists, it can be more or less in a theoretical sense. But for the person experiencing it, it is beyond comparison. A person may have broken every bone in his body. Or lost many loved ones. Yet the man next door with a broken finger or a dead cat is miserable as well.

Still, I keep telling myself that no matter how bad things get; it could alway be worse. Pleasant thoughts, eh?

My world is currently compressed. We have closed ranks. Shuttered ourselves in. Ironically, it’s currently only my kids, parents and I. As for Mr H, I worry. That is all I can do for now. Good thing is, I’m an expert at worrying.

Anyhoo, it has truly been a long- winded, inane post. Apologies for inflicting my verbosity on you poor souls!

Till next time,

J.