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Archive for the ‘chaos’ Category

I’m feeling particularly down today. A culmination of events at work and outside has left me totally drained.

It has been a very difficult month at work. What is supposed to be a quiet time usually, with many people out on vacation, turned out to be a difficult few weeks. The week that I took off last week did help, but it has been barely four days since that vacation and I’m already feeling in the dumps again.

Dealing with government agencies is very hard, especially in India. No one is answerable to any one and you are at the mercy of the case workers handling your case. They don’t have respect for anyone’s time. Everyone has the attitude that they are doing you a huge favor and you should be indebted to them. There are very few people who get things done, especially without the attitude. They have such fat egos. You literally have to tippy toe around their fragile egos. So, we spent 3 wasted hours at one such office this afternoon. PK had a train to catch @ 7 pm, but we hung around in the corridors of this office from 2 – 5 pm, two kids in tow, who were sleepy, bored and hyper. We have to go back next week again.

Tomorrow is my father-in-law’s 70th birthday celebration in Trichy. The whole family was supposed to go, but we found out just this week that tomorrow is the annual Sports meet at my son’s school. This school doesn’t seem to believe in advance notice and assumes that parents can just appear at the school at the drop of a hat. Everyone seems to hold us prisoners. So, AK and I had to cancel our trip. So, after the afternoon’s fiasco, PK and SK left hurriedly to the train station around 6 pm, hoping they wouldn’t miss the train. They were sad to leave us and go, we were disappointed we couldn’t go and my in-laws are also very disappointed that we aren’t going. There are not that many functions in the immediate family, so I had really been looking forward to going for this. So, it will be just me at the Sports meet tomorrow to watch AK do some martial arts and also receive a medal for second place in running.

All these also mean, I have been away from the office on and off. That is putting additional pressure at work. To de-stress, I’m researching summer vacation options!! Or maybe it is a stupid attempt to escape from reality.

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Jan 1st 2010 was the scariest day of my life. We were vacationing in Goa that week, and that particular day we were playing in Baga beach. It was sometime around mid-afternoon (around 3.30 pm or so). We were enjoying the warm waters and the thinner crowds (it is all relative, thinner compared to the previous day, but still very populated compared to the beaches abroad). SK (4 yrs old) wanted to take a break from the water and just play in the sand. I sat her down in an empty area which we could see from quite a distance and joined PK and AK back in the water. We were literally checking on her every minute and she seemed content playing. After about 15 minutes, when I looked at that spot (probably for the 15th time), I did not find her there. My heart missed a beat, but I immediately found her about 10 steps to the right where she was collecting more sand. I thought may be she is getting restless and walked back to her and sat down with her to play.

Apparently the sand in her original spot was not enough for her, so she wanted to go around a few steps, collect some and bring it back to her spot. She did this one or two more times and I must have momentarily spaced out. Next thing, AK comes to me and says he needs to use the bath room (and do the big job!). This is very unusual since he, like me, has a mortal fear of public restrooms and rarely ever needs to go when we are out and about (this internal defense mechanism has gotten even stronger after we have moved here). I tell him to go back and ask PK. And then I look around for SK but cannot spot her anywhere. Since it must barely have been two minutes since I last saw her I physically got up and looked front, back, left, right and near the water but could not find her. By then PK was also coming out of the water to help AK with his need. I told him I was not able to locate SK and asked him also to look. Soon the 3 minutes turned to 5 and we couldn’t see signs of her anywhere and we started to get a bit frantic. I went and reported this to the life guard on duty. He said not to worry as it was an almost weekly occurrence there and invariably the children would be found nearby somewhere. He promised to get his tractor and go the length of the beach and announce on the loud speaker. I sat with him inside the vehicle and we must have traveled half the length and I was crying on the mic asking for her to come to the vehicle if she heard me. The loud speaker was not at all powerful, I probably could have screamed louder than that. All this while PK was going around yelling her name at the top of his lungs, he just wanted everyone to be aware that a child was missing. And AK is just trying to go behind one parent or the other crying. I don’t know if he realized the gravity of the situation.

But for me, time came to a stand still. When we didn’t find her in the first 10 minutes or so, I completely despaired. My main area of interest in searching was between our shack (where we had rented out lazy chair-beds and left our belongings there) and the spot where we were playing. This must have been a 200 or 300 meter stretch. I didn’t see any point in going beyond that in the patrol vehicle since I thought it was a waste of time. Meanwhile people were asking how long it had been since we noticed her missing, exactly when we first noticed her gone etc. It was such a bad time and place for this to happen (not that there is ever a good place or time for children to get lost). Since we expected to be a in a crowded beach and mostly in the water all day, we didn’t have our watches, cell phones, cameras or anything with us. People were asking if she knew our phone numbers, if we had a picture of her etc, and we had nothing. Our hotel was at least a 90 minute ride by taxi from this beach. I was just going crazy with all kinds of scary thoughts – you know, the usual, about kidnapping etc. Some people were suggesting we look in the water but I was confident she would not have gone in, especially if she didn’t see us. I wanted the life guard to register a complaint with the police. They were still saying we would find her but I was just dying every passing minute. Because we started this search with in 2-3 minutes of not seeing her and it was now almost close to 30 minutes or so. Who knows what could have happened. And I was also feeling major guilt since she was on my watch, but in retrospect, such a momentary lapse can happen to anyone, isn’t it? Another concerned parent was having the same terrible thoughts I guess. He was saying that we need to call the police to make sure that an eye is kept near the exits of the beach. But the long line of shacks are also scary, crowded places and who would search those, if we suspected any mishap. Man, I didn’t even want to complete those thoughts. I was pleading with the life guard to please do something and he said he would radio all the towers one last time before involving the police. I don’t know if he had a chance to do that, but the next minute he told me she had been found. I didn’t really believe him, thought it must be a mistake. Because with all of us searching for her and not having found her, how could she turn up so suddenly? Anyway, he made me sit in his patrol vehicle and took me there. Sure enough, she was in PK’s arms and he was crying profusely. The next few moments are a total blur. Obviously, we are ever indebted to the person who found her and brought her back, but I don’t know if we even expressed our sincere gratitude. We had so many questions for him, but a huge crowd had gathered, she looked so dazed and we just couldn’t stop crying. We just took down his number, and walked back to our chair-beds. Along the way, all the onlookers had lots of questions, comments and we tried to answer everyone politely, but mostly we just wanted to be alone and needed some privacy. After sitting in silence for the next ½ hr or so, AK wanted to go back in the water. But we were not in the mood. We promised him that the next day, he could spend the whole day at the pool in the resort. He was an angel and didn’t fuss. We rode back to the resort in silence.

The whole situation left us completely shaken for the next few days. How much ever you think of prevention, what we could have done differently etc, this is not something you can rehearse for. Later the whole evening we were just discussing all this and AK said “Can’t you just be happy we found her? Why do you need to keep on talking about it?” I don’t know if he understood the seriousness of the episode. And I don’t know how I can make him realize it without scaring him. We did talk to both of them again about the importance of sticking together in crowded places, not wandering off etc etc, but still it is never enough. I told SK I was so sad and scared when I couldn’t find her and she goes “But why momma? I wasn’t in any danger.” Her version of how it happened: “I went for a short walk to get more sand but after that I couldn’t find you, so I kept walking looking for you, but couldn’t find you. But on the way back, the short walk became a long walk and I also saw some goats on the way back”.

If this had happened at the beginning of the trip, we would have just headed back home right away, but this happened with only a day to spare, so we just hung out at the resort the next day and came back to Bangalore. We also called the person who had brought her back. Apparently, he found her more than one kilometer away at the next beach – Calangute beach (which is the most popular beach in Goa and hence the most crowded). He had heard that a 4 yr old girl, wearing a brown wet suit, was missing. He saw her and called out her name and she turned and he knew he had found her. We offered to buy him dinner and/or drinks but he was single and vacationing with a bunch of friends and he declined.

The first few days SK used to refer to this incident as “When I went for a short walk which became a long walk”. Now she just says “when I got lost”. I think she has talked about it in school etc, but there are only so many details a 4 yr old will recount. So not sure if they take her seriously. We are so thankful to have found her safe and sound and realize that not all families are so lucky. My heart goes out to them.

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Close call

Winter has arrived with a bang, pretty much all over the country. Here in Massachusetts, we have almost 15 inches of snow and it has finally stopped snowing after 2.5 days. It started on Friday afternoon and just stopped late Sunday evening.

I don’t go courting trouble in this type of weather, but there were a few important errands to run on Saturday. We don’t celebrate Christmas, so I don’t have a lot of gifts to buy, but I still needed to do the minimum – gifts for the kids teachers in school, the piano teacher, the cleaning lady etc. And we have only two days left to give it out. I probably shouldn’t have put it off so long, but … Considering the weather wasn’t any better on Sunday, I just headed out on Saturday afternoon. The roads were not fully cleared but it was drivable. The driving to the store and shopping was pretty uneventful, but it was quite slow since it was all crowded and the parking lost were very messy. While coming back though, about 4 miles away from home, my Honda CRV, just veered off to the left lane because of the snow and ice. I frantically steered right and it want left and I over corrected and before I realized, the car just spun around and I crashed into the snow back exactly perpendicular to the direction of the traffic. I was so lucky because I was right next to a street light pole. It would have been a LOT worse if I had crashed into it. My mouth was dry and heart was racing. This was my first time in such a situation and I think I do panic easily. Lots of cars did pass by me slowly, and I sat there with hazards on. It was about 5.15 pm (dark!) and I contemplated calling PK to come bail me out of the mess. Then I calmed myself down and when no cars were around, I slowly backed off of the snow pile and ever so slowly eased back into the road and drove at less than 25 mph the rest of the way home. It took me a few hours to recover and was thankful it all ended well.

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Ice storm havoc

The ice storm which pelted the North East on Thursday night has wrecked the daily lives of over a million people all over New England and upstate New York. Our work site was without power much of Friday. Most states have declared a state of emergency. We were lucky that we have had electricity at our home through out. Many others have been out of power since Thursday night and some are still without it after 72 hours. Portable generators have been completely sold out and hotels are all booked for the weekend. Our friends from Merrimack, NH spent the weekend with us and went back tonight to a hotel near their home hoping they will have their power restored on Monday. Here’s wishing everyone can stay warm at their homes, in hotels or the temporary shelters that have been setup …

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Dark days …

Last few days haven’t been good. Lots of uncertainty at work, an inkling of which I got on Friday. So, there was an uneasy feeling in the back of my mind all weekend. Then yesterday, it was confirmed. ~15 people from our group have to relocate to the west coast by summer or leave. 6 more of us are left, and apparently we are ok (at least for now!). But I feel terrible for those affected. Many are strong contributors and a pleasure to work with. Lots of them have been in this area for > 20 yrs and can’t see themselves relocating. For those who want to, the housing market is terrible and they’ll probably take some losses if they have to sell there homes now. I’ve been so depressed since yesterday. Many other groups are being disbanded, there are open questions as to how long this site will be functional and other such unpleasantness, insecurity. I have not looked, but I don’t think the job market here is that great. Many companies are moving out of the state, the few that are around are rumored to be laying off too, so I don’t think there are any hiring sprees anywhere.

Then I was hoping to do something small at home in celebration of Sankranthi. It started off by me waking up only ~6.15 am because PK forgot to set the alarm. That is late even for a regular day, let alone to do something special! On top of that AK really exasperates us with his slow motion movements in the morning and not getting ready for school quickly. So there was yelling, crying etc. Then the bad atmosphere continued at work. Then that stress transfers home and even the smallest provocation by the kids lets my emotions loose and it spirals into a negative feedback loop.

One of our old friends is in town on a business trip and so I was making some special dinner, but amidst all this chaos, I royally screwed it up. That had me feeling very low too, but now that dinner is over, its behind me. The guys are sitting and talking, the kids are sleeping and some time for me to reflect on whats happening to me, around me etc. I just saw that our stock has tanked. Fitting end to a terrible day.

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I was at the bus stop to pick up A from his camp (it was his third day). The first thing he said when he saw me “Mommy, today I had to eat lunch like a dog. You forgot to pack a spoon”. Gosh, I felt so terrible! Since I grew up eating with my hands, it doesn’t sound so terrible to me but when I asked him why he didn’t eat with his hands, pat came the reply “I just don’t like it”. So he barely ate a quarter of his lunch. I was berating myself for the next hour but he emphatically assured me that I wasn’t a bad mom just because I forgot to pack a spoon. In my defense, the day care he attended up until now provided all that stuff, so I never packed spoons for him these 5 years. The first 2 days, I was doing everything for the camp with a lot of thought and hence had remembered, but by the third day, I let me guard down and that is what happens. I’m keeping some spare plastic spoons in his backpack right now, for days like today.

It hasn’t been easy, with PK being out in Long Island. Getting out in the mornings is always a fight even with two of us and when I’m doing it all alone and trying to stick to a schedule, it gets really tough. Earlier the goal used to be out ASAP in the mornings, but now there’s the bus schedule to keep.

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