Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Why I decided to Quit?

My job, that is. Although it has been over 2 years, since I quit my job but I never really talked about it.

We were a DINK couple. DINK is Double Income No Kids, to the uninitiated. We would go to work on the week days, catch movies on TV at night (we even watched 25 movies in a month through BigFlix), go mall-hopping or window-shopping on weekends, play games on PlayStation the whole night (my husband) or read the whole day (me) or watch back-to-back FRIENDS (me) or catch back-to-back movies in the theatre (us)…phew! Where was I?

But one fine day I realised (since I am an introspecting kind); I was fast approaching the dreaded figure of 30. I suddenly thought ‘what am I doing!’ After 20 years, will I look back and feel I had a great life or will I feel the pangs of unfulfilled dreams?

I will take a moment to give a background about my work. I have done Diploma in Marketing. I was obsessed with getting into Advertising, and I have written in detail here, here, and here, how I got the job I wanted, during my campus. But my delusions about Advertising ended pretty soon. It may have something to do with my then boyfriend, now husband, not being around in Mumbai, where I worked. I knew no one in Mumbai and it got pretty lonely because I am not an out-and-about girl. I hardly went out during those days. So, after about 15 months, I moved to Pune in a Marketing Communication profile. Though I knew nothing about what to expect, I learnt a lot during my 4.5 years stint. It was refreshing and exciting to be taken seriously and approached for Marketing advice when you have so less experience. I learnt on the job and had a great time, but it was not my calling. Writing is.

So, somewhere around early 2010, we decided that I can put in my papers. We streamlined our financial commitments, as we were going from double income to single income. Friends still tell me how they would not have given up such salary. But you know, money is not the most important thing in my life. In the last 2 years, I have never, not even for a single second, regretted giving up my job. My husband is a person like no other. He has been the most supportive husband ever. There are not enough words to articulate his role in my life. And I must also add that although I married him after knowing him for 4 years, nobody can really predict how a person will eventually be as a husband. Once I was unwell during my stint in Mumbai. I was all alone. He is the one who caught a bus for Mumbai after office at night (when he was a fresher), waited for the locals to start in the morning in Mumbai, reached my hostel at 5 am, picked me up and brought me with him to Pune, and went back to office at 10 am (as a Fresher he could not take leave). He is the one on whose shoulder I cried when I did not do well in a subject. He is the one who waited for 3 hours (till 3 am) outside my creative agency, when I had to put a catalogue to print. He is the one who held my hand when I went into labour. He is the one who complements me every single day for the tea I make for him.

Oh, but I digress, I would write more about him some day. So, I put in my papers before Diwali holiday in 2010 (October). My boss was bewildered, slowly when others came to know, they either thought I was pregnant or I was joining another company. Neither was true. My boss reasoned out with me that taking a break looks attractive before you do it but when you actually end up not doing anything, you end up in frustration. He was kind enough to even consider giving me a break for a couple of months. But I told him the truth. I did not know if I would want to join back after the break. My mind was somewhere else and I did not want to keep the company in limbo. So, he accepted my resignation. He expressed his surprise couple of months back that I am still jobless and still very content in my role.

I had certain things to achieve ‘before I turned 30’. Being a mother was one of them. We discovered that I was pregnant during our Anniversary in early December 2010. I went on to complete my notice period till 31st December 2010.

The earlier plan was to quit, and discover Pune. Just walk around, go to all the bookstores, quaint little places for food and clothes, and just do what an office-going person seldom does, while away my time. For some time. But I had severe nausea from the beginning of my pregnancy, which continued almost throughout the 9 months. I was thankful that I did not have to rush to office, figure out my diet and take rest. I took care of myself (of course with complete support of my husband, who cooked for me many times) for the entire 9 months. My in-laws came in the 9th month.

Naturally, my focus had shifted. I hardly read or thought about writing during those months. I just focused on my pregnancy. After delivery, my life had been on a whirlwind (as all new parents would know). In only last couple of months, I have started writing in a disciplined way, and reading with a lot of focus. This year I am going to read the highest number of books I have ever read in any year. Because when my son would start playschool (most probably, in December 2013), I would start actively seeking writing opportunities. Right now, I am taking in whatever is coming on its own. I hardly get much time. I get on an average 3 hours of reading and writing daily. That too because I don’t do anything else. I don’t socialise. I don’t gossip on phone. I don’t watch TV.

In last 2.5 years, my life has changed so much. I never realised it would turn out this way when I decided to quit. But I am in a happy space. I live with the two people I love the most. I have all the time for them. I read a lot and I have started writing professionally. What more can I ask for!

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Make Up

The one which is done with cosmetics.

The only makeup I ever use is a Kajal and some moisturiser, irrespective of the event/place I am going to – taking my toddler son for a stroll or a wedding reception or a movie, anything. It is not because I detest make up. In fact, I would love to be able to (as they say) ‘camouflage my flaws and highlight my best features’ but all these years I neither had the talent nor the inclination to learn the art of makeup.
The only time in my life when I have been ‘made up’ had been (no points in guessing) on my wedding. When I look at those pictures, I am barely able to recognise myself.
I am always in awe of women who expertly use make up and transform into a glamour queen. I certainly wish I had that talent.

When I was getting married, I also did the whole hog – buying all sorts of cosmetics like eye liner, mascara, lipsticks, lip pencil, eye shadows (the 2-tier one) from Lakme and Chambor. I never used any of those cosmetics, since the make-up lady used her own on me. After about 2 years of my wedding, I had to travel for my sister-in-law’s wedding. It was then that I realised that I had a so-called make-up kit, tucked away in some corner of my house, which was no longer usable  So, what did I do? I bought a couple of new cosmetics for the wedding. I did use the lipstick once or twice. But guess what prompted this post? I just had to throw those cosmetics, since they are past their usability.

Despite reading over and over again about the importance of using Sun Screen, I don’t even use that and get tanned. Heck, I don’t even apply nail polish on my toes (or fingers). (That is plain laziness, I admit). The only thing I love is Kajal. I can’t do without it. I believe, it transforms my face. I use one from Chambor in black. I have also tried grey colour once, because the sales girl pushed it on me. I also make it a point to take off the kajal with olive oil at night.

Nevertheless, I wish I could use makeup sometimes. It wouldn’t have hurt to look good once in a while.

My husband insists I look good without make up, which tells less about my looks and more about his ability to keep peace at home. Husbands! I tell you!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Lunch Ideas for Toddlers

This post was first published on Humpty Bumpty Kids.

It is legendary that toddlers are fussy eaters. You can break your heads unravelling the mystery of how your perfect child who ate all you offered turned into such a picky eater, or rise up to the challenge. You cannot alter the natural developmental phase of kids, so it is better to accept it and take it in your stride.

A few things to remember: 
  • Focus only on the bigger picture. You have to provide your child enough Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Vitamins and Minerals during the course of the day. Achieve that through a smart combination of cereals, pulses, animal protein, milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables. If he does not want to have dal rice, offer rice separately, and he can drink dal like soup. 
  • Kids are not compelled or motivated by nutrition of the food served, unlike grown-ups. If it does not appeal to them, they would not even try it. So, the food has to be appealing. 
  • Strictly observe a 2-3 hours gap between meals. If your toddler keeps munching one thing or the other, he would obviously not be hungry enough at the time for the meal. 
  • Limit your child’s milk intake. Doctors advise that a toddler does not require more than 2 small glasses of milk (i.e. 200 – 250 ml approx.). If he drinks half litre milk, naturally he will not be sufficiently hungry for the food. And remember, at 1-3 years of age, a child needs nutrition through a variety of food, and not just milk.
  • Little kids emulate what their parents do. So, you have to lead by example.
  • Encourage them to eat on their own. For example, when I try feeding my toddler a roti, he just out rightly refuses to open his mouth; but when I encourage him to eat a piece of the roti on his own, he eats it. 
  • Offer lots of vegetables at every opportunity. Add a variety of veggies in Sambhar, Poha, Pulao, Noodles, Pasta, etc. A mix of vegetables not only provides different kinds of essential vitamins and minerals, they also add colour to the food and make it attractive. 
And finally, here are few quick lunch ideas for your picky eaters which have worked for me:
  • Risotto : When my son refuses to eat rice, I use this recipe to revamp the rice and present a more sumptuous version of it. 
  • Besan (gram flour) pancakes: It tastes yummy with honey. 
  • Spinach and corn soup: Quite filling and extremely nutritious. 
  • Brown bread and omelette: Add veggies like mushroom, tomato, onion, capsicum to omelette to make it tastier. Add a little milk while beating the egg to make the omelette extra soft. 
  • Sweet pancakes: It is always the Plan B for me (at the moment) when my baby refuses to eat what is cooked for lunch. It is ready in a jiffy. Just make a batter of regular aata (wheat flour) with sugar and water. Add some raisins. Heat a little oil in a pan (uniformly spread out so as to coat the entire cooking surface), put a dollop of the batter and spread it out in a circular motion like dosa. Cook it on both sides and serve.

Here are a few more recipes that busy mommies can try.

Toddlers are at an exciting yet impressionable age. It is the right time to introduce all kinds of food to them. They get bored easily so the idea is to engage them by offering different things or at least altering the presentation!